By: Steven Franklin
Today, in United States v. Carr, the Fourth Circuit held that a defendant can receive the requisite number of Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) predicate convictions through a consolidated criminal judgment.
A jury found Antoine Charles Carr guilty of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, and possession of cocaine base. Mr. Carr received a 210-month sentence due to a sentencing enhancement under the ACCA. On appeal, Mr. Carr argued that, because he had multiple convictions that fell under one sentence, he did not have the three predicate convictions necessary for the ACCA to apply.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), a defendant is considered an armed career criminal if he has “three previous convictions . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another.” Similarly, under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 4B1.1(a), a defendant will not be considered a career offender unless two of the convictions have sentences that are counted separately.
However, there is no such language under the ACCA. It simply requires three predicate “convictions.” Mr. Carr attempted to argue that “conviction” and “sentence” are materially indistinguishable, but the Court found this unpersuasive and affirmed the trial court’s decision.