In U.S. v. Day, No. 05-15676 (Sept. 27, 2006), the Court held that the district court should not have relied on a prior Florida third-degree burglary conviction as a basis for sentencing the defendant as an armed career criminal, and vacated the sentence.
Three prior "violent felonies" qualify a defendant for sentencing as an armed career criminal. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). One of Day’s prior convictions arose out of a case where he was charged in Florida State court with second-degree burglary, but pled guilty only to a lesser offense, third-degree burglary, which could not have involved a dwelling and not have qualified as a violent felony. The guilty plea to third-degree burglary contained insufficient information to determine whether Day was convicted of burglarizing a structure or a conveyance. The district court relied on the charging document, which charged second-degree felony.
Reversing, the Court recognized that charging documents are among the materials a court can ordinarily look to in determining whether a prior offense is the type of burglary that qualifies as a violent felony. Here, however, reliance on the charging document was improper, because the defendant pled guilty to a different offense than the one with which he was charged.