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UNITED STATES v. CARTER

October 24, 1995

UNITED STATES
v.
MARK A. CARTER, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FRIEDMAN

 I. DISCUSSION

 Defendant Mark Carter was charged under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). That statute reads in part as follows:

 
(g) It shall be unlawful for any person --
 
(1) who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year ...
 
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

 Count One of the grand jury indictment charging Mr. Carter reads in relevant part:

 
On or about August 1, 1995, within the District of Columbia, MARK A. CARTER, having been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year . . . did unlawfully and knowingly receive and possess a firearm, that is, a IMI 9mm semi-automatic rifle, which had been possessed, shipped and transported in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce. (Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1))

 Defendant argues that Count One fails to state an offense because the language of the indictment does not track the language of the statute and that, as written, it would permit a jury to convict him of conduct that does not constitute an offense under the statute. The Court disagrees.

 Rule 7 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure requires only that an indictment "be a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged." Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(1). Its purpose is to assure that defendants are fairly informed of the charges against which they must defend so that they may prepare a defense, and to permit them to plead former jeopardy upon any subsequent prosecution. Hamling v. United States, 418 U.S. 87, 117, 41 L. Ed. 2d 590, 94 S. Ct. 2887 (1974); United States v. Hernandez, 980 F.2d 868, 871 (9th Cir. 1992); United States v. Clarridge, 811 F. Supp. 697, 711-12 (D.D.C. 1992); see also 1 WRIGHT & MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE §§ 123, 125 (2d ed. 1982). It is not necessary that an indictment recite the exact language of the statute or precisely track its language. United States. v. Poole, 929 F.2d 1476, 1479 (10th Cir. 1991).

 As the Fifth Circuit explained in United States v. Wiley, 979 F.2d 365, 367 (5th Cir. 1992) (quoting United States v. Chaney, 964 F.2d 437, 446 (5th Cir. 1992)):

 
An indictment is sufficient if it (1) contains the elements of the offense charged, (2) fairly informs a defendant of the charge, and (3) enables the defendant to plead acquittal or conviction in bar of future prosecutions for the same offense. "Practical, not technical, considerations govern the validity of an indictment and the test of the validity of an indictment is not whether the indictment could have been framed in a more satisfactory manner, but whether it conforms to minimal constitutional standards."

 See also United States v. Shelton, 937 F.2d 140, 142 (5th Cir. 1991); United States v. ...


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