Borden v. United States

(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2020 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus BORDEN v. UNITED STATES CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT No. 19–5410. Argued November 3, 2020—Decided June 10, 2021 The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) mandates a 15-year minimum sentence for persons found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm who have three or more prior convictions for a “violent felony.” An offense qualifies as a violent felony under ACCA’s elements clause if it neces- sarily involves “the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.” 18 U. S. C. §924(e)(2)(B)(i). In Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U. S. 1, the Court held that offenses requiring only a negligent mens rea fall outside a relevantly identical definition. Id., at 9. The “critical aspect” in determining the relevant mens rea, the Court explained, was the statute’s demand that the perpetrator use physical force “against the person or property of another.” Ibid (em- phasis in original). Then in Voisine v. United States, 579 U. S. 686, the Court held that reckless crimes fall within a different statutory defini- tion—this one requiring the “use of physical force,” but lacking the “against” phrase Leocal deemed “critical.” In both decisions, the Court left open whether reckless offenses would satisfy ACCA’s elements clause. Petitioner Charles Borden, Jr., pleaded guilty to a felon-in-posses- sion charge, and the Government sought an enhanced sentence under ACCA. One of the three convictions alleged as predicates was for reck- less aggravated assault in violation of Tennessee law. Borden argued that this offense is not a violent felony under ACCA’s elements clause because a mental state of recklessness suffices for conviction. In his view, only purposeful or knowing conduct satisfies the clause’s demand for the use of force “against the person of another.” The District Court disagreed and sentenced Borden as a career offender. The Sixth Cir- cuit affirmed. Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded. 2 BORDEN v. UNITED STATES Syllabus 769 Fed. Appx. 266, reversed and remanded. JUSTICE KAGAN, joined by JUSTICE BREYER, JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, and JUSTICE GORSUCH, concluded that a criminal offense with a mens rea of recklessness does not qualify as a “violent felony” under ACCA’s ele- ments clause. Pp. 4–23. (a) That conclusion follows from the statutory text. The phrase “against another,” when modifying a volitional action like the “use of force,” demands that the perpetrator direct his force at another indi- vidual. Reckless conduct is not aimed in that prescribed manner. Leocal confirms that conclusion. When read against the words “use of …

Original document
Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals