Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, November 15, 2013

Siler: Forcible Assault + Dangerous Weapon = 20 years

In U.S. v. Siler, No. 12-14211 (Nov. 13, 2013), the Court affirmed a conviction for assaulting a corrections officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(b), and a 20-year sentence for this offense. The statute at issue, § 111(a) and (b), establishes three levels of punishment: a maximum of one year for an offense involving only simply assault, a maximum of 8 years when the acts involve physical contact with the victim, and a maximum of twenty years when the offender uses a deadly or dangerous weapon or inflicts bodily injury. Siler placed a homemade rope around a corrections officer’s neck and forcibly choked him. He argued that he only qualified for a maximum of one year under the statute. Rejecting this argument, the Court interpreted § 111 to subject a person to the 20-year maximum when a person commits the acts set forth in subsection (a) of the statute, e.g., a forcible assault, and used a deadly or dangerous weapon during that assault. Because the jury so found, the Court affirmed the conviction and the 20-year sentence.