Thursday, November 06, 2014

Tenth Rejects Equal Protection Challenge to Armed Career Criminal Act Enhancement

U.S. v. Titley, 2014 WL 5580706 (11/4/14) (OK)(published) - Using the equal protection clause, Mr. Titley challenged the meaning of “serious drug offense” in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). He argued that although his convictions for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in Arkansas and unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in Oklahoma otherwise qualify for the ACCA enhancement, these crimes should not count because they would not be “serious drug offense[s]” had he committed them in 19 other states or D.C. The court dismissed his argument. It said that by limiting “serious drug offense” under state law to manufacturing and distribution crimes and by including only those offenses carrying at least a ten-year maximum sentence, Congress acted rationally. A state crime meeting these criteria as a qualifying offense for ACCA sentencing enhancement serves the legitimate government purpose of incapacitating repeat offenders who have been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and deterring others from committing ACCA predicate crimes and a § 922(g) offense.