United States v. Seidenberg – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Seidenberg, 420 F.Supp. 695 (D.Md. 1976), aff'd, 577 F.2d 738 (4th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 903 (1978), the defendant was committed to a mental institution operated by the State of Maryland. Id. at 696.

Years later, he "acquired firearms from federally licensed dealers," and was subsequently charged under 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6) with having "knowingly made a false and fictitious statement likely to deceive such dealer with respect to a material fact as to the lawfulness of the sale, by signing a sworn statement" that he had never been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution. Id.

The defendant moved to dismiss the charges, alleging that his prior commitment was invalid because it "was unconstitutional and that, therefore, such commitment must be treated as nonexistent for purposes of any alleged violations of section 922(a)(6)." Id.

The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. Id. at 698. It noted that, under § 922(a)(6), "the core of the offense is the making of a false statement about a prior conviction . . . ." Id. at 697.

Therefore, under § 922(a)(6), "a statement might well be deemed false even if subsequent to the making of the statement the prior conviction should be determined to be constitutionally invalid." Id.