SCOTUS to Tackle Career Criminal Sentencing

     (CN) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider a man’s sentence enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act was proper, given that his five prior convictions were for second-degree burglary.
     Police arrested Iowa resident Richard Mathis in 2013, after 15-year-old male said Mathis forcibly molested him. Despite the allegations that got Mathis arrested, federal prosecutors indicted him on a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm – to which he pleaded guilty in 2014.
     A federal judge sentenced Mathis to 15 years in prison under the Armed Career Criminal Act, finding that his five second-degree burglary convictions were violent felonies under the act.
     The Eighth Circuit upheld Mathis’ sentence in 2015, finding that while Iowa’s burglary laws are broader than federal law two of his burglary convictions involved entering garages – which matched with the federal definition of “generic burglary” under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
     A third conviction – for interference with official acts inflicting serious injury – satisfied the requirement of three violent felonies under the act and justified the 15-year sentence, according to the Eighth Circuit.
     Mathis asked the high court to resolve a circuit split as to whether courts can look at a defendant’s underlying conduct from a conviction to determine whether a federal crime has been committed without considering the various forms of committing the offense as defined by state law.
     Per its custom, the Supreme Court did not issue any comment when it agreed to hear the case on Tuesday.

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