Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kirk: "Remaining in" burglaries qualify as ACCA predicates

In U.S. v. Kirk, No. 13-15103 (Sept. 16, 2014), the Court held that prior burglary offenses counted as violent felonies under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The Court rejected the argument that because the Florida burglary statute criminalized merely “remaining in” a structure with the intent to burglarize, as distinct from “entering” the premises, it did not qualify as a “violent felony.” The Court cited contrary Supreme Court and Circuit precedent involving “remaining in” burglaries, involving the “same risks” of injury. The Court also rejected the argument that the prior convictions were not committed on occasions different from one another. “[T]he charging documents submitted by the government show that Kirk pled guilty to burglarizing seven different dwellings, located at seven different addresses and owned by seven different people, on or about separate dates.” Finally, the Court rejected the argument that the government failed to prove that it is unconstitutional for a federal statute to punish purely intrastate conduct like firearm and ammunition possession that “substantially affected” interstate commerce. The Court cited precedent holding that a “minimal nexus” of the firearm being manufactured outside the state satisfied the jurisdictional element of § 922(g), which in turn defeated a challenge to the statute’s constitutionality.