United States v. Young, No. 13-5714 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Young helped a neighbor sort and sell her late husband’s possessions, including a box of seven shotgun shells, which he stored in a drawer where they would be safe from his children. Young had been convicted of several burglary-related offenses, 1990-1992, so it was a crime for him to possess ammunition. He was unaware of this legal disability. Police later visited Young’s home, investigating recent burglaries at an auto repair shop and a storage building. During the consent search, officers found items reported stolen and the shotgun shells. The government charged Young as a felon in possession of ammunition, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The statute carries a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who has at least three prior felony convictions. Young argued that the ACCA mandatory minimum sentence, as applied to him, would violate the Eighth Amendment because it is grossly disproportionate to his offense. His advisory Guidelines range, absent the ACCA would have been 10-16 months. He also argued that he did not have fair notice of the prohibition against felons possessing ammunition. The district court expressed concerns about fairness, but determined that it had no discretion and imposed a 15-year sentence. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. That the magnitude of Young’s crime culpability, and motive were low is offset by his recidivism.