High Court Takes New Case on Sentencing for Career Criminals

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether crimes involving recklessness trigger a sentencing enhancement under a much-scrutinized law that gives harsher penalties to felons caught in possession of firearms.

The case at hand involves Charles Borden Jr., who already had three aggravated assault convictions under his belt when he was caught with a firearm during a traffic stop in April 2017.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

While Borden pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, he argues that the district court’s enhancement of his sentence to nine years and seven months in prison was a denial of due process. He previously appealed the case to the Sixth Circuit, which affirmed the lower court’s decision. U.S. Circuit Judge Deborah Cook noted that felons convicted of possessing a firearm faced up to 10 years’ imprisonment, at the time of Borden’s crime.

Claiming that appeals courts are deeply divided on the matter, Borden’s attorney Erin P. Rust of Federal Defender Services submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court in January asking that it help define whether “reckless” crimes are considered “crimes of violence” subject to sentence enhancements under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Per their custom, the justices did not comment on their decision to take up the case Monday.

Rust did not immediately return an email requesting comment, but she wrote in Borden’s petition that “courts around the country” are waiting for this clarification.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

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