Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gundy: Georgia burglary qualifies as generic burglary

In U.S v. Gundy, No. 14-12113 (Nov. 23, 2016), the Court (2-1) held that a Georgia burglary conviction qualified as a “crime of violence” for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The Georgia statute defined burglary as unlawful entry “within the dwelling house of another or any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another . . .” The Court recognized that this definition swept more broadly than generic burglary, because it encompassed not only entry into buildings, but also into vehicles. However, based on Georgia caselaw, which requires an indictment to specify the location of an alleged burglary, the Court concluded that each of the locations were “locational elements,” not merely alternative means of committing burglary. As a result, the statute was “divisible.” Each location was a separate crime. Thus, the Court could examine the record of Gundy’s prior burglaries to determine whether Gundy’s prior burglaries qualified as generic burglaries. Because Gundy’s prior burglaries involved a “dwelling house” or a “business house,” they all qualified as generic burglaries for ACCA purposes. [Jill Pryor, J., dissenting, interpreted Georgia’s standard jury instructions’ reference to “building or dwelling” as referring to a single element, not as identifying separate crimes, and noted that, in burglary trials, Georgia juries are not required to agree on the type of dwelling at issue].