Bailey v. United States Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Defendant was convicted of robbery. Defendant argues that he was merely present and did not have a role in the crime.

Facts of the case

“On July 28, 2005, an informant told Officer Richard Sneider of the Suffolk County Police Department that he had purchased six grams of crack cocaine at 103 Lake Drive, Wyandanch, New York, from an individual named “”Polo.”” Officer Sneider obtained a warrant to search the basement apartment at that address

  • the warrant provided that the apartment was occupied by a heavy set black male with short hair, known as “”Polo.”” That evening during surveillance, officers observed two men -later identified as Chunon L. Bailey and Bryant Middleton-exiting the gate that led to the basement apartment at 103 Lake Drive. The officers followed Bailey and Middleton as they left the premises in a black Lexus, and pulled the Lexus over about one mile from the apartment.The officers patted down Bailey and Middleton, finding keys in Bailey’s front left pocket. They placed both men in handcuffs and informed them that they were being detained, not arrested. Bailey insisted that he did not live in the basement apartment at 103 Lake Drive, but his driver’s license address in Bay Shore was consistent with the informant’s description of Polo. The police searched the apartment while Bailey and Middleton were in detention, finding a gun and drugs in plain view. The police arrested Bailey, and seized his house keys and car key incident to his arrest
  • later, an officer discovered that one of the house keys opened the door to the basement apartment.”


    Was Defendant’s proximity to the crime sufficient to support a conviction for robbery?


    Reversed and remanded for a judgment of acquittal.
    In order to aid and abet another to commit a crime, it is necessary that a Defendant in some sort associate himself with the venture and that he participate in it as in something that he wishes to bring about.


    The Court reversed the judgments of the appellate court and remanded the cases for a determination as to whether the convictions could be upheld under the “carry” prong instead of the “use” prong of the statute. The Court found that the language, context, and history of the statute indicated that the government must show active employment of the firearm in order to convict. Such active employment would include brandishing, displaying, bartering, striking with, and firing or attempting to fire the weapon – it would not include storing a weapon near drugs or drug proceeds or placing the weapon somewhere for a later active use.

    • Case Brief: 2013
    • Petitioner: Chunon L. Bailey aka Polo
    • Respondent: United States
    • Decided by: Roberts Court

    Citation: 568 US 186 (2013)
    Granted Jun 4, 2012
    Argued: Nov 1, 2012
    Decided: Feb 19, 2013