United States v. Trujillo, 960 F.3d 1196 (10th Cir. May 27, 2020)
May 27, 2020
On appeal from his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, the defendant argued that his guilty plea was constitutionally invalid because the district court failed to inform him that a necessary element of the charged crime was his own knowledge of his status as a felon. The Tenth Circuit agreed that the district court erred in failing to inform the defendant of this intent element and that the error was plain, but concluded that the failure was not a structural error warranting plain error review, even if it rendered the plea unknowing and involuntary. This conclusion creates a split in authority with the Fourth Circuit, which held that a similar error was structural and necessitated plain error review in United States v. Gary, 954 F.3d 194 (4th Cir. 2020).