October 4, 2023


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What’s an “occasion”? Scope of Armed Career Criminal Act depends on the answer.


If you split into a storage facility and steal from 10 independent storage units, did you dedicate 10 offenses “on instances distinct from a person another”? The Supreme Courtroom will respond to this dilemma in Wood v. United States, however another case about the scope of the Armed Profession Legal Act. The court docket will listen to oral argument on Monday, the to start with day of the 2021-22 phrase and the 1st time the justices will be again in the courtroom for an in-particular person hearing in much more than 18 months.

In 1997, James Wood broke into a ministorage facility and stole things from 10 different storage units. Wooden pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft in Ga point out courtroom and served an 8-year sentence.

Rapid-forward 18 a long time. Wooden was sitting down at residence 1 night when he listened to a knock at his door. He answered to locate an unfamiliar male, who requested to communicate with Wooden’s wife. Picket invited the stranger inside of when he went to get her. The stranger just happened to be a basic-clothes officer who realized of Wooden’s felony convictions. Mainly because people today with felony convictions are generally prohibited from possessing firearms, when the officer stepped inside and observed a gun, he arrested Wood.

The federal government charged Wood with becoming a felon in possession of a firearm — a criminal offense for which the utmost punishment is 10 years’ imprisonment. The federal government also requested that Picket be selected an armed profession felony below the Armed Vocation Legal Act, in which situation Wood would be matter to a 15-calendar year obligatory minimum. To qualify as an armed profession legal, a defendant ought to have three prior “violent felony” or “serious drug offense” convictions. In this article, the federal government argued that Wooden’s 10 burglary convictions experienced as 10 “violent felonies” for ACCA purposes. To represent independent convictions under ACCA, the crimes have to be “committed on instances distinctive from a person a further.” Wood argued that the 10 burglaries all transpired on the exact “occasion,” and consequently counted for only just one qualifying violent felony under ACCA.

The U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed with the govt. It held that the crimes were being fully commited on independent “occasions” since Wooden “committed 10 unique acts of theft.” To the 6th Circuit, it was dispositive that “Wooden could not be in two (let on your own ten) of [the storage units] at once.” A great deal like the 6th Circuit, other circuits had held that crimes are committed on different “occasions” for ACCA reasons when they are fully commited “successively somewhat than simultaneously,” as in United States v. Carter, an 11th Circuit case. Other circuits, however, appeared further than temporality and instead considered regardless of whether the crimes were dedicated less than sufficiently distinctive instances. The 2nd Circuit, for instance, “distinguish[ed] concerning the defendant who only commits many offenses in a connected chain of events and the defendant who &#8230 commits several crimes separated by substantial exertion and reflection.” The Supreme Court docket granted certiorari to take care of this break up.

In advance of the Supreme Court equally Wood and the govt argue that ACCA’s framework, history, and goal help their position.

Start 1st with Wooden’s arguments. He asserts that “[a]s made use of in normal speech,” activities occur on the similar “occasion” “when they come up from or exploit the same situation.” For occasion, when you go to the shopping mall and try on shoes, browse for home furnishings, and buy some ice cream, these an outing would “naturally be described, if section of a continual trip to the mall, as getting taken place on the ‘same event.’” In addition, claims Wood, the legislative record shows that Congress was concentrating on the “habitual offender” when passing ACCA, as the statute was developed to deal with people “who created a profession of exploiting distinct criminal alternatives.” Furthermore, reminds Picket, under the rule of lenity, any ambiguity in the statute must be resolved in favor of the defendant.

By contrast, the authorities argues that an “occasion” is “an event, occurring, or incident, that takes put at a particular place in time.” Underneath this comprehension, the government urges a “temporal-distinctness exam,” these kinds of that “the pertinent ‘occasion’ for ACCA uses is the position in time when every offense is ‘committed.’” This examining is excellent, suggests the government, since it “is straightforward, workable, and furthers ACCA’s purpose of making sure very similar punishment for similarly situated offenders.” And to the extent that Wooden is arguing ACCA sweeps far too broadly, responds the federal government, “it is not for this Court to rewrite the statute so that it handles only what the Court docket thinks is vital to achieve what it thinks Congress really intended.”

The submit What is an “occasion”? Scope of Armed Vocation Felony Act is dependent on the respond to. appeared initial on SCOTUSblog.