United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
A. Feith, Esq., Dorothy E. Graham, Esq. U.S. Probation U.S.
A. DICLERICO JR. ' UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Masaoud was indicted on two counts of assault on a federal
officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111. In both counts,
the government alleges that Masaoud “did knowingly
forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate and
interfere” with the officer “while [the officer]
was engaged in the performance of his official duties.”
Masaoud moves to dismiss the charges on the ground that the
mens rea required for violation of § 111 is
intentionally, not knowingly. The government objects.
time of the events underlying the charges against Masaoud, he
was incarcerated at FCI-Berlin in New Hampshire. He is
charged with assaulting two guards at the prison in May of
2017. The government alleges that Masaoud grabbed one officer
by the shirt and attempted to hit him with a closed fist and
kicked the other officer.
111 provides in pertinent part:
(1) forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes,
intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in
section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of
the performance of official duties; . . .
Shall, where the acts in violation of this section constitute
only simple assault, be fined under this title or imprisoned
not more than one year, or both, and where such acts involve
physical contact with the victim of that assault or the
intent to commit another felony, be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.
§ 111(a). The statute does not expressly include the
mens rea necessary to be convicted under § 111. Cf.
Dixon v. United States, 548 U.S. 1, 7 (2006) (when the
statute provides the required mental state that becomes an
element of the offense). “The fact that the statute
does not specify any required mental state, however, does not
mean that none exists” because “a guilty mind is
a necessary element in the indictment and proof of every
crime.” Elonis v. United States, 135 S.Ct.
2001, 2009 (2015) (internal quotation marks omitted).
the Supreme Court nor the First Circuit has determined what
mental state is required to violate § 111. The
government contends that § 111 is a general intent
crime, which requires that the defendant acted knowingly.
See Kucinski v. United States, 2016 WL 4444736, at
*6 (D.N.H. Aug. 23, 2016) (explaining the general intent
mental state as knowingly). Masaoud contends that § 111
is a specific intent crime which requires an intentional
violation. See United States v. Dyer, 589 F.3d 520,
533 (1st Cir. 2009) (“A specific intent crime is one
committed voluntarily and purposely with the specific intent
to do something the law forbids.” (internal quotation
United States v. Feola, 420 U.S. 671 (1975), the
Supreme Court considered whether the government must prove
that a defendant knew that his victim was a federal officer
to convict the defendant under § 111. Id. at
684. The Court concluded that knowledge of the victim's
identity was not necessary because “[a]ll the statute
requires is an intent to assault, not an intent to assault a
federal officer.” Id. The Court did not have
reason to and did not decide whether violation of § 111
required specific or general intent.
years later, the First Circuit decided an appeal in which the
defendant argued that the evidence at his trial was
insufficient to show his specific intent to violate §
111. United States v. Caruana, 652 F.2d 220, 221
(1st Cir. 1981). Because the issue was not raised, the court
did not consider whether proof of specific intent was
necessary. Instead, the court determined that sufficient
evidence had been introduced at Caruana's trial to show
that Caruana had the specific intent to intimidate the
federal officers. Id. at 222.
recently, the First Circuit addressed the issue of whether
violation of § 111 constitutes a crime of violence for
purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act. United States
v. Taylor,848 F.3d 476, 491-94 (1st Cir. 2017). The
court held that the two parts of § 111, § 111(a)
and § 111(b), are divisible and that violation of §
111(b) is a crime of violence. Id. at 494. The court