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

The Federal Docket

Armed Career Criminal Act/Separate Offenses – For purposes under the ACCA, prior convictions qualify as separate offenses when the evidence shows they were likely committed at a different time and place.

Cedrin Carter pled guilty to two counts of drug distribution in state court in 2009. Carter was convicted of possession of marijuana and a firearm by a convicted felon eight years later. During sentencing, Carter and the government disagreed whether Carter pleaded guilty to “two distinct drug felonies” in 2009 and, when combined with another offense, qualified under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The district court held that Carter had pleaded “‘to two separate transactions on two different dates” and counted the convictions as prior convictions under the ACCA. Carter appealed, arguing that he only pleaded guilty to “a single drug felony.”

The Court disagreed, holding that “it was more likely than not that his [2009] offenses were committed separately” because the government applied a location-based enhancement to only one of convictions. The Court noted that the ACCA “requires that the predicate offenses be ‘committed on occasions different from one another.’” The Court also noted that “‘small gaps in time and place . . . are sufficient to establish separate offenses.’”

Appeal from the Northern District of Alabama

Opinion by Grant, joined by Pryor and Antoon (by designation from M.D. Fla.)

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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