Descamps v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: September 6, 2012
  • Case #: 11-9540
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 466 Fed.Appx. 563 (9th Cir. 2012).
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a state conviction under a modified statute that is missing an element of the generic crime may be used to enhance sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Petitioner was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) mandates a fifteen-year minimum sentence if the defendant has three prior convictions for violent felonies. Petitioner had previously been convicted of robbery, burglary, and felony harassment and the district court sentenced him to 262 months incarceration. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision and the Supreme Court granted certiorari in order to determine whether a state conviction, applying a modified state statute that is missing an element of the generic crime, qualifies under the ACCA.

On appeal, Petitioner argues that the sentence enhancement was inappropriate because his prior conviction for burglary of a grocery store wasn’t “violent” within the meaning of the ACCA and that the state definition of burglary should not qualify as a predicate offense under ACCA since the statute was indivisible and lacked a necessary element required under the federal definition.

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