Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, February 21, 2014

Howard: Alabama Third-Degree Burglary not an ACCA predicate

In U.S. v, Howard, No. 12-15756 (Feb. 19, 2014), the Court, applying the Supreme Court’s decision in Descamps v. U.S., reversed U.S. v. Rainier, and held that because Alabama third-degree burglary is a non-generic, indivisible offense, it does not qualify as a predicate offense under ACCA. The Court explained that the Alabama statute makes it a crime to burglarize a “building,” and then gives a non-exhaustive list of illustrative examples of buildings, some of which, like “watercraft,” fall outside the “building or structure” element of generic burglary. “Illustrative examples are not alternative elements.” As a result, the statute is non-generic and indivisible, which means it does not qualify as a generic burglary under ACCA.