The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Burks on Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conviction. Petitioner “provided codes to an auto-theft ring that were used to create working keys for specific vehicles. One such vehicle—an Escalade—was stolen in Nevada, stripped to its frame, and subsequently discovered and auctioned by authorities. Several months later, the same Escalade, now reassembled, was identified in Utah. Based on this discovery, [Petitioner] was charged and convicted of aiding and abetting the possession and transportation of a stolen vehicle . . . . On appeal, [Petitioner] argues that the jury was improperly instructed on the affirmative defense of withdrawal and was allowed to make an improper inference that [Petitioner's] associates knew the vehicle was stolen.”
The Court disagreed with Petitioner’s contentions. “First, assuming that withdrawal is an affirmative defense to a conviction premised on accomplice liability, [the Court held] that the jury was properly instructed that the burden of proving the defense rested on[Petitioner]. Second, [the Court held] that the jury was properly instructed that it could infer that [Petitioner’s] associates knew the vehicle was stolen.” The Court also rejected Petitioner’s claims “that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction and that the district court erred in its restitution order.”