Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hill: Resisting an officer with violence qualifies under ACCA elements clause

In U.S. v. Hill, No. 14-12294 (Aug. 26, 2015), the Court, affirming a conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), found no error in a district court’s denial of a defendant’s request to add the word “knowingly” to its jury instruction on “constructive possession.” The Court found that the district court’s instruction impliedly required that Hill knowingly possess the firearm. On a cross-appeal by the government of the district court’s finding that two prior convictions did not qualify as “violent felonies” under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), the Court agreed with Hill that this argument was foreclosed in light of the Supreme Court’s recent Johnson decision. However, the Court (sua sponte: the government did not raise this point on cross-appeal) found that one prior conviction, for resisting an officer with violence, in violation of Fla. Stat. § 843.01, qualified under ACCA’s elements clause. The Court therefore remanded the case for the district court to consider whether the prior Fla. Stat. § 843.01 conviction, coupled with two prior drug offenses, might qualify Hill for a sentence under ACCA.