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Sixth Circuit: Facilitating a Crime Can Be a Violent Felony

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

The Armed Career Criminal Act’s mandatory minimum guidelines applies to any person who has been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and who has three previous convictions for “violent felonies” or serious drug offenses. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a Tennessee conviction for facilitation of aggravated robbery qualifies as a “violent felony” under the Act.

In August 2009, Anthony Gloss pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Pre-Sentence Report recommended that Gloss be sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (Act) on account of two Tennessee convictions for violent felonies and one Tennessee conviction for a serious drug offense.

Gloss conceded he had committed one serious drug offense and one violent felony (aggravated assault), but objected to the conclusion that his conviction for facilitation of aggravated robbery qualified as a violent felony.

The district court overruled Gloss's objection, and sentenced Gloss to 180 months, the mandatory minimum sentence required under the Act.

To convict an individual of facilitation of aggravated robbery in Tennessee, the State thus must establish that the defendant (1) knowingly provided substantial assistance to another (2) whom he knew intended to steal property from a victim by using a real or disguised weapon, or by causing serious bodily injury.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the facilitation conviction was sufficient to trigger mandatory minimum sentencing under the Act because it "requires that the underlying crime actually occur." The court noted that it made no difference that Gloss was not the person who committed the aggravated robbery; all that mattered is that someone did so, and that Gloss knowingly provided substantial assistance to that person.

What does this mean for your criminal defense practice? Your clients don't have to commit the violent part of a crime to do the mandatory minimum time.

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