Agrawal v. United States

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petition for Writ of Certiorari.

Brief filed: 02/14/2014


Agrawal v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 13-8527

Prior Decision

Decision below 726 F.3d 235 (2nd Cir. Aug. 1, 2013).


The National Stolen Property Act’s (NSPA) terms “goods, wares, merchandise” are limited to tangible items that are offered for sale in the marketplace. The plain language of the NSPA limits “goods, wares, merchandise” to movable items that are meant to reach the marketplace. Congress restricted the language of the NSPA by using the narrow terms “goods, wares, merchandise” and rejected amendments to expand the language to include trade secrets. Other federal statutes limit the terms “goods, wares, merchandise” to items destined for sale. This Court in Dowling v. United States limits “goods, wares, merchandise” to items that implicate traditional property rights. The nature of trade secrets renders them antithetical to the category of stolen items – “goods, wares, merchandise” that fall within the ambit of the NSPA. Applying the NSPA to trade secrets has led to varying decisions in the lower courts. The rule of lenity mandates a strict construction of “goods, wares, merchandise.”

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Professor Ellen S. Podgor, Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, FL; Jeffrey T. Green, Washington, DC.