Case Caption: Justin Sonson v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2009-0109Date: 09/09/2013Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

Defendant's convictions for aiding and abetting the unauthorized possession of a firearm under 14 V.I.C. § 11(a) and § 2253, and aiding and abetting the failure to report ammunition purchased outside or brought into the Virgin Islands under 23 V.I.C. § 11(a) and § 470, are affirmed. A person found in possession of a firearm or ammunition can be found in violation of 23 V.I.C. § 470 if the firearm or ammunition is not reported to the Commissioner. The words “obtained” and “possessed” under the statute are indistinguishable and “possessed” is the functional equivalent of “obtained.” Under our law, it is not necessary for a jury to determine ownership of the firearm and ammunition. Because the evidence was more than sufficient to warrant the jury in concluding that defendant and another individual had actual knowledge of the firearm and ammunition and had the ability to exercise dominion and control over the firearm and ammunition found in a vehicle of which they both were occupants, there was no error in a conviction under 23 V.I.C. § 470 of both parties for aiding and abetting each other in the failure to report the firearm and ammunition. The trial record is devoid of any facts suggesting that defendant sought to immediately report the ammunition to the Commissioner as required by statute. The Superior Court did not plainly err in convicting the defendant under 14 V.I.C. § 2253. His argument that this statute is unconstitutional has previously been rejected by this Court in Hightree v. Virgin Islands, 55 V.I. 947 (V.I. 2011). Given the defendant's failure to raise the constitutional issue at trial, and any asserted error being neither clear nor plain under the current law, the Second Amendment claim will not be considered. The convictions are affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion