The US Supreme Court has decided Rosemond v. United States, exploring yet another facet of the federal law on use of a gun in a crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). This case involves the "what did he know, and intend, and when did he know/intend it" aspect when an accomplice to a robbery uses a gun.
We hold that the Government makes its case by proving that the defendant actively participated in the underlying drug trafficking or violent crime with advance knowledge that a confederate would use or carry a gun during the crime's commission. We also conclude that the jury instructions given below were erroneous because they failed to require that the defendant knew in advance that one of his cohorts would be armed.In practice, proving that a participant knew in advance that another participant was armed is going to require accomplice testimony in nearly every case, with all the problems that entails.* * *An active participant in a drug transaction has the intent needed to aid and abet a §924(c) violation when he knows that one of his confederates will carry a gun. In such a case, the accomplice has decided to join in the criminal venture, and share in its benefits, with full awareness of its scope--that the plan calls not just for a drug sale, but for an armed one. In so doing, he has chosen ... to align himself with the illegal scheme in its entirety--including its use of a firearm.