Michigan Court Discusses Violent Crimes Under Federal Sentencing Laws

Under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), people with prior convictions for certain crimes can face greater penalties during subsequent sentencing hearings. Specifically, the ACCA allows for increased sentences for people with a history of committing violent felonies. Violent felony is a broad term, though, and it is not always clear what qualifies as such an offense. Recently, a Michigan court discussed whether home invasion constituted a violent felony, ultimately concluding that it did. If you are accused of committing a crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Michigan criminal defense attorney about your options for seeking a just outcome.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. He entered a guilty plea, after which he was convicted and sentenced. During his sentencing hearing, he was deemed a career offender under the ACCA due to a prior conviction for third-degree home invasion. He appealed, arguing that his prior offense was not a violent felony as defined by the ACCA, and therefore, his sentence was improper.

Violent Felonies Under the ACCA

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In so doing, it explained that under the meaning, as defined by the ACCA, a conviction will be considered a violent felony if the statutory elements are either more narrow or the same as those of the generic violent felony offense. In order to conduct this assessment, which is referred to as the categorical approach, the court must only assess the statutory language. In other words, it must ignore the actual facts that led to the defendant being charged with the underlying offense.

The court elaborated that in order for a defendant to show that a prior conviction under a state statute was not a violent felony as defined by the ACCA, they must demonstrate a realistic probability that the state would apply the statute in question to behavior that falls outside of the generic definition of the crime.

In the subject case, the court ultimately found that the defendant failed to demonstrate that Michigan’s third-degree home invasion law touched on conduct that fell outside of the generic burglary offense, as he was required to do to show that it was not a violent felony under the ACCA. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

A conviction for a violent crime may not only result in a lengthy prison sentence, but it may also impact how a person is punished for future crimes. If you are charged with a felony, it is important to talk to an attorney about your options for protecting your rights. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can assess the circumstances surrounding your arrest and help you to seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a conference.

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