The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Smith on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s sentence. Petitioner pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He appeals from the district court’s application of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) to enhance his sentence; Petitioner alleges that an assault or battery committed by a person in custody on an employee of the Office of Juvenile Affairs is not a violent felony.
The Court disagreed. Petitioner’s “crime qualifies as a violent felony under the residual clause of the ACCA because the offense categorically involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” An assault or battery committed on a peace officer is not equivalent to the same act committed against any other person. An assault or battery committed by a person in the custody of the state on those responsible for containing him necessarily gives rise to the sort of “powder keg, which may or may not explode into violence and result in physical injury to someone at any given time, but which always has the serious potential to do so.” Therefore, the sentence enhancement was appropriate.