Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Harris: Alabama Attempted First-Degree Assault Satisfied the ACCA's Elements Clause

In United States v. Harris, No. 18-11513 (Oct. 29, 2019) (Marcus, Julies Carnes, Paul Kelly (10th)), the Court upheld the defendant's ACCA enhancement based on Alabama attempted first-degree assault.

The Court held that the Alabama assault offense satisfied the elements clause.   The parties disputed which alternative element of Alabama assault was at issue.  The Court ruled out reckless assault as a matter of state law, as the Court found that a specific intent was required.  Of the remaining two possibilities, circuit precedent had already held that assault by causation of serious injury satisfied the elements clause, and the same was true of attempting to commit that offense.  As to assault by serious disfigurement, the Court similarly held this offense satisfied the elements clause because it required the causation of pain or injury.