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

In United States v. Vice, 562 F.2d 1004 (5th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 951 (1978), when the defendant purchased a firearm, he "stated that he had never been convicted by any court of a crime punishable by a prison term exceeding one year when in actuality he had been convicted of such a crime by a state court . . . ." Id. at 1005.

He was later charged federally with "knowingly making a false statement in the acquisition of a firearm," in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6).

Following his indictment, but prior to the trial of the federal offense, the state court that had convicted Vice "voided that conviction on constitutional grounds as of the date of the conviction." Id.

Nevertheless, the defendant was convicted of the false statement charge in federal court. Id.

On appeal, the defendant argued that "the statement made while acquiring the firearm was not false since the original state conviction had been set aside and declared void as of a date prior to the firearm transaction and that therefore no violation of § 922(a)(6) had occurred." Id.

The court rejected appellant's position, stating:

"That the prior conviction was later set aside on constitutional grounds does not obviate the requirement imposed by § 922(a)(6) to tell the truth about the conviction." Id.

Notably, the court also said: "At the time defendant made the statement and failed to reveal the existence of a prior conviction, the statement was false." Id.