The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has reversed a dismissal of an indictment that a housemate facilitated a felon’s possession of firearms. The courts argument would seem to be that since the charge was facilitating, not her own possession, the case should go to trial to discover the facts in the case. From a strictly legal reasoning point of view, I can understand where the court is coming from. But I’m uncomfortable with the ruling as the effect it will have on the rights of those who live with prohibited persons. Think about a battered spouse who seeks a firearm to protect herself in an abusive relationship with a convicted felon.
In this instance any spouse, domestic partner, or roommate of a prohibited person runs legal risk keeping a gun in the home for self-protection. If the prohibited individual is ruled to have been in possession, the housemate can also be charged. That seems like a poor way to treat someone’s constitutional rights.
I think in this case the court got it wrong. There needs to be evidence that the person purposefully helped aid in the possession of the prohibited person. Otherwise the housemate is deprived of their constitutional right without due process.
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