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United States v. Dukes
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
432 F. 3d 910 (2006)
The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Drexel Lee Dukes, Jr. (defendant) on drug-manufacturing charges and for possessing firearm silencers, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). That tax-law statute makes it a crime to possess a "restricted" firearm, as defined by 26 U.S.C. § 5845, without registering it in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Section 5845's definition of firearm includes some types of gun, such as sawed-off shotguns and machine guns, as well as items other than guns, such as silencers and bombs. The trial evidence established that Dukes lived with his girlfriend, Pamela Hoselton, at her house. Eyewitnesses to a drive-by shooting told the police that they saw someone speed away from the scene in a car they recognized as Hoselton's. A police search of Hoselton's house turned up the controlled substance methamphetamine, equipment for making methamphetamine, several guns, and two devices that they suspected were homemade silencers fashioned from modified industrial mufflers. The modifications rendered the mufflers unfit for their intended use on pneumatic air valves. Dukes admitted possessing the devices but claimed he was ignorant of the devices' use for "silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm." The jury convicted Dukes on all counts. On appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Dukes challenged the sufficiency of the government's evidence on the § 5861(d) charge.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gruender, J.)
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