Home Menu ↓
Clicking on our sponsor links helps insure continued free access to this website.
Please support our efforts by visiting our sponsors:


McFadden v. United States

Docket No.: 14-378
Certiorari Granted: Jan 16 2015
Argued: April 21, 2015
Decided: 6/18/15


Controlled Substances Act, National Firearms, harmless-error, willfulness

PartyNames: Stephen Dominick McFadden v. United States
Petitioner: Stephen Dominick McFadden
Respondent: United States

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Citation: 753 F.3d 432
Supreme Court Docket

Stephen Dominick McFadden
United States

Federal law criminalizes "knowingly or intentionally" manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing "a controlled substance." 21 U.S.C. 841(a). Prohibited "controlled substance[s]" ordinarily are listed in schedules updated through notice-and-comment rulemaking. See id. $$ 802(6), 811-12. However, the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 provides that a "controlled substance analogue" also shall be treated as a Schedule I controlled substance. 21 U.S.C. 813. A "controlled substance analogue" is defined as a substance with a chemical structure that is "substantially similar" to a schedule I or II drug and has a "substantially similar" effect on the user (or is believed or represented by the defendant to have such a similar effect). Id. Section 802(32)(A). The Government does not publish lists of controlled substance analogues; instead, it prosecutes individuals who sell what prosecutors believe to be substances meeting the statutory definition, leaving lay juries to decide whether any given alleged analogue is substantially similar in chemical structure and effect to a scheduled controlled substance, often on the basis of conflicting expert testimony.

Question Presented:

The Question Presented is: Whether, to convict a defendant of distribution of a controlled substance analogue, the government must prove that the defendant knew that the substance constituted a controlled substance analogue, as held by the Second, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits, but rejected by the Fourth and Fifth Circuits.

McFadden v. United States

April 21, 2015

Listen to Oral Argument in McFadden v. United States
Opinion By:

Warning: Use of undefined constant caseTitle - assumed 'caseTitle' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/supremec/public_html/supremecourtobserver.com/code/sofunctionsndb.php on line 1147

McFadden v. United States
Case Documents

1McFADDEN v. UNITED STATES Oral Argument Audio
2McFADDEN v. UNITED STATES Oral Argument Transcript (PDF)
3Slip Opinion in McFadden v. United States (Opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas)