ACCA/Sentencing – A defendant’s prior state law conviction constitutes a “serious drug offense” under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii) if the defendant’s offense involved the conduct described in the statute.
The Court considered how courts should determine whether a defendant’s prior state law conviction is a “serious drug offense” under the Armed Career Criminal Act, which triggers mandatory minimum sentences based on a defendant’s prior convictions. Under § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii), a state law offense is a “serious drug offense” if it involves “manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance.”
The justices unanimously held that a court need only look to the conduct involved in the defendant’s prior conviction and determine whether it constitutes “manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute” under § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii). The Court explicitly rejected employing a similar categorical approach to drug convictions as they applied to “violent felonies” under the ACCA, which involves qualifying a defendant’s prior offense by comparing it to a “generic offense.”
On certiorari to the Eleventh Circuit
Opinion by Ginsburg
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