4th Circuit on "innocent possession" defense
Via the interesting and new Appellate Decisions blog:
The Fourth Circuit has just handed down US v. Gilbert (04-5004, Nov. 28, 2005), refusing to recognize an "innocent possession" defense to felon-in-possession charges where possession was " transitory and without illicit motive." Gilbert, a felon, claimed that he found the gun while on the way to work and meant to turn it in to the police. (As the court notes at the end of the opinion, his explanation is a bit fishy).
The Court notes that felon-in-possession requires only a "knowing" state of mind, not a "willful" one like much of the rest of the Gun Control Act (after its 1986 amendments). It refers to a prior decision that suggested there might be a justification defense where the felon was under imminent threat of death or injury and possessed a gun only to defend himself.
Sounds like a split in the circuits -- it notes that DC circuit has recognized innocent possession, while the 7th and 10th, and now the 4th, have refused.