Friday, May 04, 2018

Statute Prohibiting "Transporting" of Illicit Drugs Qualifies as "Serious Drug Felony" for ACCA Purposes

US v. Johnson, 2018 WL 2058181, Docket No. 17-6228 (10th Cir. May 2, 2018): Mr. Johnson's sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) is affirmed. The Court holds that an Oklahoma statute that prohibits transportation of illicit drugs with the intent to distribute them, Okla. Stat. tit. 63, § 2-401(A)(1), qualifies as a "serious drug offense" as defined for ACCA. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)9A)(ii). The Court acknowledges that the federal definition of "serious drug offense" does not include "transportation," but it does include "possessing" and "the transportation of drugs necessarily implies their possession." The Court also rejects Mr. Johnson's argument that his two prior drug convictions occurred on the same occasion. One conviction occurred because Mr. Johnson sold 3 grams of crack cocaine to an undercover investigator at 4:20 p.m. one afternoon. The next day, at 7:15 p.m., officers found 13 grams of cocaine base in Mr. Johnson's car. The Court rejects Mr. Johnson's argument that the two incidents involved the "continuation of a single drug deal, negotiated at the same time, between the same parties." The Court noted the crimes were related, but said they were nonetheless distinct because they were committed at "distinct, different times" and Mr. Johnson had "a meaningful opportunity to stop" after the first sale.