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Decision in Criminal Case re Plain Meaning of section 924(c)(1)(A)

By FindLaw Staff on May 12, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In US v. Gurka, No.08-2584, the First Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's motion to withdraw the portion of his guilty plea pleading to gun charges related to a cocaine trafficking offense.  In affirming the conviction, the court held that the plain reading of 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)(1)(A)'s text shows that a defendant who exchanges drugs for guns "possesses" the guns "in furtherance" of a drug trafficking crime within the meaning of the statute. 

As the court wrote: "Gurka's possession of the gun 'furthered' the drug crime with which he is charged by the ordinary understanding of the term. While it is not natural to say that a person who trades drugs for guns 'uses' the guns in the transaction, it is natural to say that a person who trades drugs for guns 'possesses' the guns 'in furtherance of' the transaction."

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