Friday, December 09, 2016

ACCA enhancement upheld

US v. Doctor:  Police in North Charleston, SC, received a call from a woman who claimed Doctor stole her cell phone and was inside a residence there with a gun.  Officers arrived at the location, gave Doctor his Miranda warnings, and questioned him about the firearm.  He lead the police to a pistol on the couch.  Doctor later pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession.

Doctor had two prior convictions for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and one conviction for South Carolina strong arm robbery.  Doctor objected at sentencing to the characterization of the robbery as an ACCA violent felony.  His objection was overruled.  After receiving the mandatory minimum 15-sentence, Doctor appealed.

On appeal, Doctor argued that his conviction for strong arm robbery should not be a crime of violence for ACCA purposes because a defendant can effectuate a robbery with only a slight threat, and his conviction does not match the force clause requirement that force be directed “against the person of another.”  Further, Doctor argued that his conviction could be committed without an intentional use or threat of physical force.  The Fourth Circuit disagreed with Doctor, and using the categorical approach, found that there was no basis to conclude that Doctor’s robbery conviction could be accomplished with force below the physical force threshold.  The Fourth Circuit concluded that Doctor’s prior conviction qualified as a predicate violent felony within the meaning of ACCA.

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