United States v. Smith, No. 13-15227 (11th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Defendants pleaded guilty to federal felony offenses and received enhanced sentences when the district courts ruled that their prior convictions were, respectively, serious drug offenses and controlled substance offenses. At issue in consolidated appeals is whether the definitions of "serious drug offense" under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(2)(A), and "controlled substance offense" under the Sentencing Guidelines, U.S.S.G. 4B1.2(b), include crimes that do not require an element of mens rea regarding the illicit nature of the controlled substance. The court affirmed both convictions, concluding that drug crimes without an element of mens rea can be serious drug offenses where neither definition at issue requires that a predicate state offense include an element of mens rea with respect to the illicit nature of the controlled substance. Accordingly, the district courts correctly sentenced Defendant Smith as an armed career criminal and Defendant Nunez as a career offender.