May 20, 2019

Tenth Circuit: Sentence Vacated Because Predicate Convictions Did Not Qualify for ACCA’s Enhanced Sentencing Provisions

The Tenth Circuit published its opinion in United States v. Hoyle on August 28, 2012.

Defendant-Appellant Hoyle appealed his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and also appealed his sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) to 262 months’ imprisonment. In the conviction challenge, Mr. Hoyle contended that the government offered insufficient evidence that he possessed a firearm, and that the charged possession affected interstate commerce. The Tenth Circuit rejected Mr. Hoyle’s arguments and affirmed his conviction.

In the sentencing challenge, Mr. Hoyle argued that two of the three prior convictions relied upon by the district court (both were Kansas state law convictions) do not qualify as predicate convictions for the ACCA’s enhanced sentencing provisions. Specifically, Mr. Hoyle argued that the two Kansas convictions are not such qualifying  predicates because the convictions no longer disqualify him from possessing firearms as a matter of state law. The Court agreed that Mr. Hoyle’s firearm possession rights were restored by operation of state law, thus precluding either of the two state convictions from qualifying as ACCA predicates. The Tenth Circuit therefore vacated Mr. Hoyle’s sentence, and remanded to the district court for resentencing.

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