Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Conage: ACCA Case Certifying Question about "Purchasing" Trafficking Quantity to Florida Supreme Court

 In United States v. Conage, No. 17-13975 (Sept. 30, 2020) (Julie Carnes, Ed Carnes, Clevenger), the Court certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court about the Florida trafficking statute in 893.135.

 The question was whether cocaine trafficking under 893.135(1)(b)1 is a “serious drug offense” under the ACCA.  That Florida statute is indivisible, and it prohibits “purchasing” a trafficking quantity of drugs.  To satisfy the ACCA’s definition of a “serious drug offense,” the offense must “involve” certain acts, one of which is possession with intent to distribute.  Thus, the question was whether purchasing a trafficking quantity under 893.15 “involves” actual or constructive “possession” of the drug being purchased.  If not, then the statute is categorically overbroad, and it will never qualify as an ACCA predicate.  However, because Florida law did not specify the elements of trafficking by purchase, and did not otherwise define the term “purchase,” the Court certified that issue to the Florida Supreme Court.