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United States v. James Innocent & Elijah Jones (11th Cir. October 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the convictions and sentences of two defendants for possession of a firearm by convicted felon, holding that neither met their burden of showing that plain error under Rehaif affected their substantial rights. The Court noted that “most people convicted of a felony know that they are felons” and that the defendant had failed to meet his burden despite showing he had a low IQ and had never served more than a year in jail or prison. The Court distinguished the case from pre-Rehaif cases where a defendant had litigated their felon status or maintained that they were allowed to possess a firearm.

United States v. Cedrin Carter (11th Cir. August 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit upheld a defendant’s conviction and sentence under the ACCA because his prior convictions in 2009 were separate offenses.

United States v. Michael Vickers (5th Cir. July 2020)

The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court that vacated a defendant’s sentence under the ACCA and Career Offender enhancement, holding that the defendant’s prior state murder conviction under Texas law qualified as a violent felony under the ACCA despite the prior statute not distinguishing between direct and indirect force.

United States v. Najee Oliver (11th Cir. June 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s enhanced sentence under the ACCA, holding that his prior conviction for terroristic threats under Georgia law constituted a prior violent felony. The statute listed several types of offenses constituting terroristic threats and was therefore divisible, and the defendant’s conviction for threatening to commit an act of violence qualified as a predicate violent felony under the ACCA.

Gregory Welch v. United States (11th Cir. May 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, holding that his prior Florida convictions for strong-arm robbery and felony battery were “violent felonies” under the ACCA’s elements clause.

United States v. Marlon Eason, et al. (11th Cir. March 2020)

Joining several other circuits, the Eleventh Circuit held that a conviction for Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a “crime of violence” for the sentencing enhancement under either the elements clause of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a) or as an enumerated robbery or extortion offense, as a defendant can be convicted of Hobbs Act robbery based merely on a threat to property.

United States v. John Terry Chatman, Jr. (8th Cir. March 2020)

The Court reversed the defendant’s conviction for obstruction of justice by attempting to kill a witness where the evidence showed that the defendant shot at an officer “out of frustration and retaliation” and not with the intent of “preventing a communication about the commission of a federal offense” to other other officers.

Shular v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, February 2020)

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held a defendant’s prior conviction under state law qualifies as a “serious drug offense” under the ACCA if the defendant’s conduct involves “manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance” as spelled out under the statute. In doing so, the Court rejected a categorical approach that would require courts to match the defendant’s state offenses to a “generic offense.”

United States v. William Dale Wooden (6th Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that the defendant’s consent for an undercover officer to enter his house was not tainted by “police deception.” While the officer did not identify himself as law enforcement to the defendant when he asked to talk to the defendant’s wife and to step inside “to get out of the cold,” the officer did not take any affirmative acts to conceal his identity from the defendant. The Court also held that Wooden’s burglary convictions under Georgia law qualified as crimes of violence under the ACCA.

United States v. Tyrone Mitchell (3rd Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that the sentencing court committed plain and reversible error when it relied on the defendant’s “bare arrest record” in determining a sentence, as the sentencing court had only cited the Defendant’s “extensive criminal history” without adequately distinguishing between adjudications, convictions, and mere arrests. 

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