Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

McGuire: Upholding Conviction and Sentence for firing at a helicopter

In U.S. v. McGuire, No. 11-12052 (Jan. 30, 2013), the Court rejected a sufficiency of the evidence challenge to a conviction for violating 18 U.S.C. § 32(a)(1) by firing a single shot from a handgun in the general direction of an airborne police helicopter.

McGuire admitted that a witness testified that he saw McGuire shoot a pistol skyward right toward the spotlight where a helicopter orbited. The Court noted McGuire’s argument that he was distraught over losing his girlfriend and his job, and wasn’t really aiming at the helicopter, but concluded that this was for the jury to decide.

The Court also held that a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 32(a)(1) qualifies as a “crime of violence” for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The Court noted that even if the conduct was merely attempting to disable an aircraft, it “still involves an intentional act against another’s property that is calculated to cause damage and that is exacerbated by indifference to others’ wellbeing.”