Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Bolatete: Upholding Conviction for Possessing Unregistered Silencer Over Constitutional Challenges

 In United States v. Bolatete, No. 18-14184 (Sept. 29, 2020) (Ed Carnes, Branch, Luck), the Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction and sentence for possessing an unregistered silencer.

 First, the Court held that the National Firearms Act was constitutional under Congress’ taxing power.  It explained the binding circuit precedent foreclosed the defendant’s contrary arguments.

 Second, applying plain error review, the Court rejected the defendant’s argument that the Act imposes an unconstitutional tax because it imposes impermissible fees on the exercise of Second Amendment rights.  There was no decision addressing that argument, so any error was not plain.  For the same reason, the Court also found no plain error as to the defendant’s argument that the Act’s application to silencers violates the Second Amendment.

 Third, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that he was not entrapped.  Although the defendant initially told the undercover officer that he did not want a silencer, there were others facts that showed a predisposition to receive and possess an unregistered silencer.

 Fourth, as to sentencing, the Court found that any guideline error was harmless because the court said it would impose the same 60-month sentence anyway, and that upward variance was not substantively unreasonable.