Amicus curiae brief of Families Against Mandatory Minimums and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Argument: Under Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000), if a sentence would be unreasonable absent a particular fact neither found by the jury or admitted by the defendant, the sentence would violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment jury trial right; in the instant case, whether the defendant brandished a “machinegun” during a robbery, triggering a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence, must be treated as an element of the offense.
Amicus curiae brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in support of appellant.
Argument: United States v. Harris, 959 F.2d 246 (D.C. Cir. 1992) is no longer good law in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. O’Brien, 130 S.Ct. 2169 (2010), which held that the “machinegun” provision of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(B)(ii) is not a “sentencing enhancement” but an element of the offense of “using or carrying” a machinegun in connection with a crime of violence; although Sec. 924 is silent as to whether knowledge that the firearm is capable of fully-automatic fire is a prerequisite for conviction under the statute, the court must presume mens rea is required where a statutory provision triggers a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence