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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Salman Khade Abuelhawa
United States
(for petitioner)
(for respondent)
Location: Skyline Grill
Facts of the Case 

In 2007, a federal district court convicted Salman Khade Abuelhawa in part for unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally using a communications facility (a telephone) in committing, causing, and facilitating a felony (distribution of cocaine) in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section 843(b). Mr. Abuelhawa appealed arguing that Section 843(b) does not apply because he purchased cocaine for personal use, which is not a felony.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed Mr. Abuelhawa’s conviction. It reasoned that Mr. Abuelhawa's use of a cell phone facilitated cocaine distribution because his telephone call made the distribution of cocaine "easier" for his dealer, which is a felony, thus Section 843(b) properly applies.


Does the use of a telephone to buy cocaine for personal use "facilitate" the commission of a felony (the seller's distribution of cocaine) and violate 21 U.S.C. Section 843(b)?

Decision: 9 votes for Abuelhawa, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Controlled Substances Act

No. With Justice David H. Souter writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, it held that using a telephone to make a misdemeanor drug purchase does not "facilitate" felony drug distribution. The Court concentrated on the "plain meaning" of the statute in order to reach its conclusion.

Cite this Page
ABUELHAWA v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_192>.
ABUELHAWA v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_192 (last visited August 25, 2015).
"ABUELHAWA v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_192.