SYKES v. UNITED STATES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
09-11311
Petitioner 
Marcus Sykes
Respondent 
United States
Decided By 
Advocates
(for the petitioner)
(Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Marcus Sykes pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana enhanced Sykes’ sentence under the ACCA after determining that he had previously been found guilty of three violent felonies.

In March 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that "fleeing police in a vehicle in violation of Ind. Code § 35-44-3-3(b)(1)(A) is sufficiently similar to ACCA’s enumerated crimes in kind, as well as the degree of risk posed, and counts as a violent felony under ACCA."

Question 

Does a conviction for resisting arrest counts as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for United States, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: federal sentencing guidelines

Yes. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower court in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Felony vehicle flight, as proscribed by Indiana law, is a violent felony for purposes of ACCA," Kennedy wrote. Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which he wrote: "the majority errs by implying that the 'purposeful, violent, and aggressive' test may still apply to offenses 'akin to strict liability, negligence, and recklessness crimes.'" Justice Antonin Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, in which he chastises the majority for an "ad hoc judgment that will sow further confusion." Justice Elena Kagan also filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "Vehicular flight comes in different varieties, and so too the statutes that criminalize the conduct," Kagan wrote. "Because petitioner Marcus Sykes was convicted only of simple vehicular flight, and not of any flight offense involving aggressive or dangerous activity, I would find that he did not commit a 'violent felony' under ACCA."

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SYKES v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_11311>.
SYKES v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_11311 (last visited December 12, 2014).
"SYKES v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_11311.