Ball v. United States
470 U.S. 856 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ball v. United States, 470 U.S. 856 (1985)

Ball v. United States

No. 84-5004

Argued January 9, 1985

Decided March 26, 1985

470 U.S. 856

Syllabus

Petitioner, a previously convicted felon, was arrested when the police found him in possession of another person's revolver that was reported missing; he reportedly threatened a neighbor with the revolver, and tried unsuccessfully to sell it. Petitioner was then indicted on charges of receiving a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(h)(1) and for possessing it in violation of 18 U.S.C.App. § 1202(a)(1). He was convicted in Federal District Court on both counts and sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment on the respective counts. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the District Court with instructions to modify the sentences to make them concurrent.

Held: Congress did not intend a convicted felon, in petitioner's position, to be punished under both § 922(h) and § 1202(a)(1). Congress recognized that a felon who receives a firearm inevitably also possesses it, and therefore did not intend to subject that person to two convictions for the same criminal act; the legislative history supports this reading of congressional intent. While the Government may seek a multiple-count indictment against a felon for violations of §§ 922(h) and 1202(a)(1) involving the same weapon where a single act establishes the receipt and the possession, the defendant may not suffer two convictions or sentences on that indictment. If the jury returns guilty verdicts for each count, the trial court should enter judgment on only one count. The remedy of ordering one of the sentences to be served concurrently with the other cannot be squared with Congress' intention. Pp. 470 U. S. 859-865.

734 F.2d 965, vacated and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., concurred in the judgment. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 470 U. S. 867. POWELL, J., took no part in the decision of the case.

Page 470 U. S. 857

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