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Defendant Receives an Enhanced Sentence for Prior Marijuana Charges


The defendant is appealing his sentence of 210 months that was imposed after he pled guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. The defendant is challenging the fact that the district court determined that he qualified for an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The Armed Career Criminal Act imposes a larger sentencing for those that have been convicted three times previously for felonies or serious drug offenses. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said the sentencing of the defendant was partly based on his prior conviction for possession of marijuana.

Case Background

The defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon pursuant to a written plea agreement. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said a probation officer that was in charge of the case came to the conclusion that the defendant qualified for an enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

The defendant objected to the determination that he qualified for an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act. He argues that his previous conviction was not a serious drug offense under the state statute. He states that his previous conviction was for distribution, which is not covered by the ACCA. However, the court did not receive any documents from the previous court to show that this was the case.

The district court ruled that the defendant’s prior conviction did in fact qualify as a predicate offense under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The district court used this finding to determine his sentence to be between 180 to 210 months in prison. The court chose to sentence the defendant to 210 months in prison. In the written judgment listed his sentence as 211 months.

Case Discussion

The court must first look at the original crime that the defendant was convicted of to determine whether it was in fact enough to warrant the extended sentencing for the current crime. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said a person is found to be guilty of marijuana possession in the first degree if he possesses marijuana for something other than personal use. This offense is punishable as a class C felony.

The main question that the court has to ask in this particular case is whether or not the possession of marijuana for anything other than personal use is considered a serious drug offense as described under the ACCA. When considering whether or not an offense should be considered serious the court needs to consider the facts of the conviction.

A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said the defendant claims that the offense does not qualify as a serious drug offense because he did not concede that he possessed the drugs for anything but personal use and there are no documents that establish that his possession involved anything but personal use.

Court Decision

The court has reviewed the facts of the case and finds that the crime of possession of marijuana for other than personal use does constitute a serious drug offense for the purpose intended under the ACCA. For this reason we affirm the district court’s application of the enhancement and the sentence that was given out. We do vacate the sentence to read 210 months instead of the 211 as written.

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