United States v. Lockhart, No. 16-4441 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
On rehearing en banc, the Fourth Circuit vacated defendant's conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and remanded the case for further proceedings. Defendant argued that if he had been properly informed of his sentencing exposure, there was a reasonable probability that he would not have pleaded guilty. Defendant also argued that his intervening decision in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019), rendered his guilty plea involuntary, because he did not understand the essential elements of the offense to which he pleaded guilty.
Considering the totality of the circumstances relevant to defendant's potential sentence, the court held that the required warning about defendant's Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) exposure would have had a significant effect on his assessment of his strategic position. Furthermore, the government conceded, and the court agreed, that the magistrate judge plainly erred in accepting defendant's guilty plea based on this pre-Rehaif understanding of the law. Therefore, given the procedural and factual circumstances of this case, the magistrate judge's failure to properly advise defendant of his ACCA exposure, together with the Rehaif error, in the aggregate were sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of the proceeding.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on February 27, 2019.