United States v. Graves, No. 16-3995 (3d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Harrisburg Officer Simmons, conducting undercover surveillance, heard a dispatch about gunshots east of his location, describing two potential suspects in dark-colored hooded sweatshirts, walking west. Minutes later, Simmons observed two men in dark-colored hooded sweatshirts walking west. Graves had a “pronounced, labored” gait and tense arms, suggesting that “he may have concealed something heavy.” Simmons yelled “Police,” handcuffed Graves, and conducted a pat-down search, during which he felt “multiple small hard objects” in Graves’ front pockets. The objects felt like crack cocaine but were packets of Depakote and one bullet. Graves admitted that he had a loaded pistol in his boot. Graves was charged with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, 18 U.S.C. 922(k); 924(a)(1)(B) and unlawful possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2); 924(e). After denial of his motion to suppress, Graves pled guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm. The court treated Graves as a career offender, finding that his two convictions for North Carolina common law robbery were the categorical equivalent of the enumerated crime of robbery, U.S.S.G. 2K2.1. The Third Circuit affirmed. Simmons had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was underway and did not exceed the bounds of a valid protective frisk. Under the Guidelines, generic federal robbery is defined as in the majority of state robbery statutes, without the requirement of more than de minimis force; North Carolina common law robbery and generic federal robbery contain the same elements.