Thursday, February 22, 2018

NC Voluntary Manslaughter Is ACCA Violent Felony

US v. Smith: Smith was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and was sentenced under ACCA. The only issue on appeal was whether his prior conviction in North Carolina for voluntary manslaughter was a "violent felony." The offense in North Carolina involves "the unlawful killing of a human being without malice, express or implied, and without premeditation and consideration" and,  according to the state supreme court, "generally . . . occurs when one kills intentionally but does so in the head of passion." The court rejected Smith's argument that the offense could be committed negligently, noting that (quoting a North Carolina appellate court) that voluntary manslaughter is "essentially a first-degree murder, where the defendant's reason is temporarily suspended by legally adequate provocation." Based on this "it is certain that the intent required is sufficient to qualify it as a categorically violent predicate."

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