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Armed Career Criminal Act Results in 20 Years Imprisonment

A Riviera Beach man was sentenced earlier this month to 20 years in federal prison for violating the Armed Career Criminal Act. The defendant had been previously convicted of a number of felonies and, as a result, was prohibited from possessing a firearm. In 2013, the man is said to have fled from police on two separate occasions and dropped a firearm while fleeing on each occasion. Once he is released from prison, the man will be supervised for five years.

What is the Armed Career Criminal Act?

The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) is a 1984 law providing harsh penalties for felons who commit crimes involving firearms. As its name implies, it is designed to severely punish those individuals who have a significant violent and/or drug-related criminal history and who are found to be in possession of firearms when they are prohibited from possessing them.

The provisions of the ACCA are triggered by the offender’s criminal history – in other words, the ACCA itself is implicated when a qualifying felon who is ineligible to possess a firearm is found to be in possession of a firearm. A “qualifying felon” is one who has been convicted on three prior occasions for a serious drug crime or violent felony. The previous convictions can be the result of violating federal laws and/or state laws. The ACCA allows a court to sentence the offender to 15 years in federal prison, up to life imprisonment.

What are “Violent Felonies” and “Serious Drug Offenses”?

Determining whether a defendant has “violent felonies” or “serious drug offenses” in his or her criminal history is not as straightforward as it might appear. A “violent felony” is any state or federal offense involving the use or attempted use of physical, violent force against another (“violent” meaning capable of causing injury and/or pain). This can include offenses where:

  • Physical force or threatened physical force is an element of the crime (felony battery, for instance); and/or
  • Physical force is used in context of a burglary, arson, or extortion crime.

A “serious drug felony” includes those drug-related offenses that are punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years. The defendant does not need to be sentenced to 10 years for the drug offense in order for it to qualify as a “serious drug offense.”

Contact a Federal Weapons Crime Defense Attorney

Any illegal possession of weapons charge is a serious matter, but more so when your criminal history raises the potential of being sentenced under the ACCA. In that case, you need South Florida federal criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner to ensure that the ACCA is not unlawfully applied to your case. If your criminal history does not contain the requisite prior “violent felonies” and/or “serious drug felonies,” the ACCA most likely cannot be applied in your case. Contact the law office of Jeffrey S. Weiner today by calling (305) 670-9919 and discuss your state or federal weapons charge with us during your free initial consultation.

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