Oral argument: Oct. 6, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (May 30, 2008)
ARMED CAREER CRIMINAL ACT, CAREER CRIMINAL, RULE OF LENITY, FIREARM, GUN, FELON, FELONY BATTERY
Curtis Darnell Johnson was convicted of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. Because he had been previously convicted of three felonies, one of which was a battery involving possible touching of another person, the prosecution sought to sentence him under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”). The ACCA is a federal law that imposes a minimum sentence of fifteen years in prison on criminals who have at least three violent felony convictions. Johnson appealed his sentence, claiming that a battery potentially caused by touching another person did not meet the physical force requirement of the ACCA to be considered a violent felony. The Supreme Court must now decide whether a battery conviction that may have arisen from one person simply touching another meets the physical force requirement of the ACCA. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will influence not only the ACCA but other federal laws, especially domestic violence statutes that use the physical force requirement. It may also affect the importance of the rule of lenity.