Lora v. United States – Defending federal charges

Last month, the Supreme Court decided Lora v. United States, holding that 18 USC § 924(j) may be imposed either consecutively or concurrently. Efraim Lora was convicted of a violation of § 924(j), which penalizes using a gun during a drug or violent crime to “cause the death of a person” where “the killing is a murder.” Lora’s underlying offense was drug trafficking. At sentencing, the District Court concluded that it lacked discretion to run Lora’s drug and §924(j) sentences concurrently because, like §924(c) (which governs using a gun in connection with another felony offense), the same requirement for consecutive sentences governed §924(j) sentences as well.

The Supreme Court disagreed and held that “Congress plainly chose a different approach to punishment in subsection (j) than in subsection (c).” The Court noted that 924(c), “which was enacted in 1968, is full of mandatory penalties… Subsection (j), by contrast, generally eschews mandatory penalties in favor of sentencing flexibility… Even for murder, subsection (j) expressly permits a sentence of ‘any term of years.’ This follows the same pattern as several other provisions enacted alongside subsection (j) in the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994.”

Five federal appellate courts had held that 924(j) was a mandatory consecutive penalty. Only the 10th and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeal held otherwise.

Lorraine Gauli-Rufo and LGR Law Group focus on defending federal charges brought in New Jersey or in Manhattan, New York, and White Plains. If you or a loved one is facing federal criminal charges or is under investigation by federal agents or have been contacted by a federal agent or an Assistant United States Attorney, we can help you. Ms. Gauli-Rufo and her team have successfully defended people charged with crimes throughout New York and New Jersey. They have obtained acquittals of many charges and have been able to obtain reduced charges and below Guideline sentences (including probationary sentences) in thousands of cases over the last 30 years. Our representative cases include healthcare fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, internet and computer fraud, securities fraud, Hobbs Act Robbery, Firearm and gun charges, drug offenses, RICO charges, gang crimes, and more. We also handle appeals and habeas matters. We have appeared and argued in both the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Second Circuit. We offer a free 15-minute consultation and defense strategy session for all potential clients. Call today to schedule an appointment with our experienced and trusted criminal defense lawyers. Call (973) 239-4300 or contact us from our website www.lgrlawgroup.com or email us at [email protected].

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