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United States v. Stock

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

August 26, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ADRIAN PETER STOCK, Appellant

Argued May 14, 2013

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 2-11-cr-00182-001) District Judge: Honorable Nora B. Fischer

Elisa A. Long, Esq. (ARGUED) Counsel for Appellant

Rebecca R. Haywood, Esq. Laura S. Irwin, Esq. (ARGUED) Counsel for Appellee

Before: SMITH, FISHER and CHAGARES, Circuit Judges

OPINION

FISHER, Circuit Judge.

Adrian Peter Stock appeals from the District Court's order denying his motion to dismiss his indictment under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(3)(B) for failure to state the offense of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). Stock argues that the term "threat" means the expression of an intent to inflict injury in the present or future, and that the statement attributed to him does not meet that definition. For the reasons stated below, we will affirm.

I.[1]

On August 3, 2011, Stock was charged in a one-count indictment that alleged:

"On or about February 9, 2011, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the defendant, ADRIAN PETER STOCK, did knowingly and willfully transmit in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure the person of another, that is, the defendant, ADRIAN PETER STOCK, posted a notice on Craig's List, an Internet web site, that contained the following statements, among others,
i went home loaded in my 1truck and spend the past 3 hours looking for this douche with the expressed intent of crushing him in that little piece of shit under cover gray impala hooking up my tow chains and dragging his stupid ass down to creek hills and just drowning him in the falls. but alas i can't fine that bastard anywhere . . . i really wish he would die, just like the rest of these stupid fucking asshole cops. so J.K.P. if you read this i hope you burn in hell. i only wish i could have been the one to send you there.

In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 875(c)."

App. at 50.

Stock moved to dismiss his indictment under Rule 12(b)(3)(B)[2] for failure to state an offense, arguing that his alleged statement did not constitute a threat under § 875(c) as a matter of statutory interpretation, but disclaiming any First Amendment challenge.[3] After holding a hearing and ordering supplemental briefing, the District Court denied Stock's motion to dismiss. Although the District Court concluded that a threat must evince an intent to injure in the present or future, the court also determined that a reasonable jury could find that Stock's statement was a threat.

Stock then executed a plea agreement with the Government pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), in which he generally waived his appellate rights, but specifically preserved his right to seek review of the District Court's denial of his motion to dismiss. The District Court accepted Stock's guilty plea and imposed a term of imprisonment of one year and one day and a term of supervised release of two years. Stock timely appealed.

II.

The District Court had jurisdiction over Stock's case under 18 U.S.C. § 3231, and we have jurisdiction over his appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

We apply a mixed standard of review to a district court's decision on a motion to dismiss an indictment, exercising plenary review over legal conclusions and clear error review over factual findings. United States v. Huet, 665 F.3d 588, 594 (3d Cir. 2012). In this appeal, Stock attacks the sufficiency of his indictment, presenting a legal question over which we have plenary review. United States v. McGeehan, 584 F.3d 560, 565 (3d Cir. 2009), vacated on other grounds, 625 F.3d 159, 159 (3d Cir. 2010). In particular, Stock challenges the sufficiency of his indictment on the basis that the specific facts alleged therein fall outside the scope of the relevant criminal statute as a matter of statutory interpretation, and ...


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