Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Proch: Escape from Jail Qualifies under ACCA

In U.S. v. Proch, No. 09-15181 (April 26, 2011), the Court held that Proch’s prior two burglaries and escape convictions were separate crimes for purposes of qualifying as “violent felonies” for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA’). The Court found that the two burglaries were of two businesses located on the same commercial boulevard but separated by a side street and parking lots. The separate locations suggested two separate criminal episodes. The escape was also a separate crime, as it occurred either at the jail or while Proch was being transported to the jail – at a time when the burglaries were complete.

The Court held that the escape was a “violent felony.” Distinguishing the failure to report offense at issue in the Supreme Court’s Chambers decision as involving “inaction,” the Court noted that the subsections of the Florida escape statute at issue were escape from jail, or escape from custody while being transported to or from jail. The Court found that such escapes “pose the same degree of risk” and are “similar in kind” to the enumerated felonies listed in ACCA’s residual clause. The Court noted that one who escapes from prison “is no doubt aware that armed law enforcement will seek him out, potentially ending in a violent confrontation.” Escapes will “almost always involve the police attempting to apprehend the escapee” and are likely to cause “an eruption of violence” upon discovery. An escape involves “a choice that will almost certainly be responded to with force, and potentially violent force, by the police.”