Oral argument: Jan. 12, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Mar. 12, 2010)
RESISTING LAW ENFORCEMENT, VIOLENT FELONY, SIXTH AMENDMENT, ARMED CAREER CRIMNAL ACT
Faced with a prison sentence of more than fifteen years for committing three “violent felonies” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), Marcus Sykes is challenging the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that his conviction under Indiana law for fleeing from law enforcement officers in a vehicle constitutes a “violent felony.” Sykes argues that classifying his offense as a “violent felony” presumes that there is violence associated with flight from police. According to Sykes, such speculation by the courts may undermine the Sixth Amendment rights of individuals faced with a mandatory sentence enhancement and is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling that other offenses with a similar propensity for violence are not “violent felonies.” However, the United States contends that fleeing from police in a vehicle is both violent in nature and in practice, as it poses a risk of serious harm to law enforcement officers and members of the public. In light of this danger of violence, the United States believes that the Seventh Circuit properly treated vehicular flight as a “violent felony” under the ACCA. The Supreme Court’s decision would help resolve the disagreement between the Seventh and the Eleventh Circuit over this issue.