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

Firearm Offenses/922(g) – Defendants prior convictions for Florida strong-arm-robbery and felony-battery were violent felonies under the ACCA’s elements clause.

Gregory Welch was initially convicted of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. He was sentenced to 15 years as an armed career criminal based on two prior convictions for Florida strong-arm robbery and a prior conviction for Florida felony battery. The district court determined Welch’s prior convictions were predicate “violent felonies” under the residual clause of the ACCA and the elements clause.

After an appeal and numerous 2255 proceedings, the Eleventh Circuit considered whether these convictions were still “violent felonies” after the Supreme Court struck down the residual clause of the ACCA in Johnson. The Court concluded that Florida strong-arm robbery is a violent felony under the ACCA because it requires more than “mere snatching.”

Judge Rosenbaum concurred, noting that the Eleventh Circuit’s binding precedent in Fritts foreclosed the defendant’s argument. However, she warned that Fritts “went too far” and could produce absurd results where some non-violent conduct could be considered sufficient to constitute a “violent felony.”

On appeal from the Southern District of Florida

Per Curiam opinion by Rosenbaum, Tjoflat, and Pauley (by designation from S.D.N.Y.)

Concurring opinion by Rosenbaum.

Click here to read the opinion.


Tom Church

Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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