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Begay v. United States

United States Supreme Court
553 U.S. 137 (2008)


The federal government (plaintiff) successfully prosecuted Larry Begay (defendant) for unlawful possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922. The judge sentenced Begay under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), which provided a 15-year minimum sentence for defendants with three previous convictions for drug crimes or violent felonies. Section 924(e)(2)(B) defined a violent felony as one that: "(i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or (ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." The judge determined that Begay was a three-time convicted violent felon, because state law treated the most recent nine of Begay's 12 convictions for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI) as felonies, and the judge considered that DUI presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to others. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Begay's sentence, and he appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

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