Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Matthews: Florida 3rd-Degree Burglary is "Violent Felony"

In U.S. v. Matthews, No. 05-13447 (Oct. 12, 2006), the Court resolved a question it recently left open in U.S. v. Day, 2006 WL 2739348, * 4 n. 4 (11th Cir. Sept. 27, 2006): whether a third-degree burglary under Florida law qualifies as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act because the offense involves "conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another."
The Court held that third-degree Florida burglary does qualify as a violent felony, even though this offense can merely involve an intrusion upon the curtilage of a structure. The Court noted that Florida defined the term curtilage narrowly, to include only an enclosed area surrounding a structure. "Regardless of whether a burglar breaches the roofed portion of a structure, his unlicensed entry into the enclosed area surrounding that structure may bring him into close physical proximity with the same persons he might encounter were he to enter the structure." Just an attempt to commit burglary can qualify as a "violent felony," a Florida third-degree burglary can also so qualify.