Jimmy Lee Boston v. United States (11th Cir. September 2019)

Sentencing/ACCA – A Florida conviction for aiding and abetting an armed robbery counts as a “violent felony” for purposes of sentencing a defendant under the ACCA since an aider and abettor is liable as a principal under Florida law.

The Court granted a certificate of appealability after the district court denied Jimmy Boston’s successive motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Boston had argued that his sentence was illegal after the Supreme Court struck down the residual clause to the ACCA in Johnson v. United States.

The Court agreed with the district court’s ruling that Boston’s principal-to-robbery-with-a-firearm convictions were “violent felonies” under the elements clause of the ACCA. Florida’s statute Fla. Stat. § 777.011 imposes principal liability on anyone who “aids, abets, counsels, hires, or otherwise procures” the commission of a criminal offense. Here, that meant Boston was similarly situated to someone who had been convicted of an attempted armed robbery, which has already been established as a violent felony under the ACCA.

Appeal from Middle District of Florida

Opinion by W. Pryor, joined by J. Pryor and Robreno (by designation from E.D. Pa.)

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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