Impossibility

Favorable and Noteworthy Decisions in the Supreme Court and Federal Appellate Courts

United States v. Fernandez, 722 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2013)

The First Circuit discusses the defense of impossibility – distinguishing factual impossibility from pure legal impossibility. In this case, the “goal” of the conspiracy was not illegal, and therefore, impossibility was a defense to the conspiracy charge.

United States v. Karaouni, 379 F.3d 1139 (9th Cir. 2004)

18 U.S.C. § 911 makes it a crime to falsely claim to be a U.S. citizen. On an I-9 employment form, the defendant checked a box indicating that he was a U.S. “national.” Checking the box did not violate § 911. Though all citizens are nationals, not all nationals are citizens. The fact that the defendant told an agent that he intended to misrepresent himself as a citizen does not render his conduct criminal under § 911, because confessing to a crime that was not, in fact, committed, does not make it so.