United States v. Deangelo Lenard Johnson

USCA11 Case: 19-10915 Date Filed: 12/02/2020 Page: 1 of 58 [PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 19-10915 ________________________ D.C. Docket No. 3:18-cr-00090-MMH-JBT-1 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, versus DEANGELO LENARD JOHNSON, Defendant - Appellant. ________________________ Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida ________________________ (December 2, 2020) Before MARTIN, ROSENBAUM, and TALLMAN,* Circuit Judges. ROSENBAUM, Circuit Judge: * Honorable Richard C. Tallman, United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, sitting by designation. USCA11 Case: 19-10915 Date Filed: 12/02/2020 Page: 2 of 58 In 1996, Congress prohibited anyone convicted of a misdemeanor that involved domestic violence from possessing a firearm. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). Senator Frank Lautenberg, who sponsored the legislation, noted that at that time, each year, somewhere between 1,500 and several thousand women were killed in domestic-violence incidents involving guns, and guns were present in 150,000 cases involving domestic violence. 142 Cong. Rec. 22985 (1996) (statement of Sen. Lautenberg). Yet, Senator Lautenberg observed, many of the perpetrators of “serious spousal or child abuse ultimately are not charged with or convicted of felonies. At the end of the day, due to outdated laws or thinking, perhaps after a plea bargain, they are, at most, convicted of a misdemeanor.” Id. at 22985. Seeking to “close this dangerous loophole,” United States v. Hayes, 555 U.S. 415, 426 (2009) (quoting 142 Cong. Rec. 22986 (1996) (statement of Sen. Lautenberg)), Congress banned those who have been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence”—one where the victim was essentially a member or former member of the perpetrator’s family, and the crime necessarily involved physical force—from possessing a firearm. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(33)(A), 922(g)(9). Recently, in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191, 2194 (2019), the 2 USCA11 Case: 19-10915 Date Filed: 12/02/2020 Page: 3 of 58 Supreme Court clarified that a domestic-violence misdemeanant does not violate this prohibition on firearm possession if he does not know he is a domestic-violence misdemeanant at the time he possesses a gun. This case raises the question of what it means for a person to know he is a domestic-violence misdemeanant. As we explain below, we conclude that a person knows he is a domestic-violence misdemeanant, for Rehaif purposes, if he knows all the following: (1) that he was convicted of a misdemeanor crime, (2) that to be convicted of that crime, he must have engaged in at least “the slightest offensive touching,” United States v. Castleman, 572 U.S. 157, 163 (2014) (internal citations omitted), and (3) that the victim of his misdemeanor crime was, as relevant here, his wife. The record establishes that Defendant-Appellant Deangelo Johnson knew all these things at the time he was found in possession of a gun. So we reject Johnson’s challenge to his conviction for being a domestic-violence misdemeanant while possessing a firearm. We similarly find no merit to his equal-protection and Commerce Clause arguments. For these reasons, we affirm Johnson’s conviction. I. ...

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