Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Circuit Affirms 300-Month Sentence for Armed Career Criminal

United States v. Roy, 12-3242-cr (2d Cir. Nov. 19, 2013) (Lynch, Chin, and Carney) (summary order), available here

Convicted of distributing marijuana and of possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), the defendant was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), to 300 months of imprisonment. In this summary order, the court of appeals upheld the sentence as procedurally and substantively reasonable.
Under ACCA, a person who violates 18 U.S.C. 922(g) and has “three previous convictions … for  a violent felony … committed on occasions different from one another … shall be … imprisoned not less than fifteen years.” Roy had three prior state convictions in Connecticut for burglary and two for arson. If these convictions were for “generic” burglary or “generic” arson, they qualified as “violent felon[ies]” under ACCA.
The Circuit held that the two arson convictions qualified as “violent felon[ies]” under ACCA because the Connecticut arson statutes under which the defendant was convicted were “generic arson statutes.” The Circuit also held that the district court did not commit “plain error” by relying on certain state records to establish that the arsons had been committed on different occasions.
Finally, the Circuit held that at least one of Roy’s three burglary convictions was for “generic burglary,” and thus qualified as a “violent felony” under ACCA. The jury instructions from Roy’s trial for a 1991 burglary revealed that the jury necessarily found that he robbed a “building” or “structure.” Accordingly, under the “modified categorical approach” to prior convictions, Roy’s conviction was for generic burglary, a violent felony. The Circuit left open whether every conviction under Connecticut’s third-degree burglary statute is categorically a violent felony.
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