Shepard v. United States

Shepard v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

November 8, 2004, Argued ; March 7, 2005, Decided

No. 03-9168


 [*15]   [**1257]  Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part III.

LEdHN[1A][] [1A] LEdHN[2][] [2] Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) (2000 ed. and Supp. II) [18 USCS § 924(e)], popularly known as the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), mandates a minimum 15-year prison sentence for anyone possessing a firearm after three prior convictions for serious drug offenses or violent felonies. The Act makes burglary a violent  [*16]  felony only if committed in a building or enclosed space ("generic burglary"), not in a boat or motor vehicle. In  Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575, 109 L. Ed. 2d 607, 110 S. Ct. 2143 (1990), we held that HN1[] a court sentencing under the ACCA could look to statutory elements, charging documents, and jury instructions to determine whether an earlier conviction after trial was for generic burglary. The question here is whether a sentencing court can look to police reports or complaint applications to determine whether an earlier guilty plea necessarily admitted, and supported a conviction for, generic burglary. We hold that it may not, and that a later court determining the character of an admitted burglary is generally [****8]  limited to examining the statutory definition, charging document, written plea agreement, transcript of plea colloquy, and any explicit factual finding by the trial judge to which the defendant assented.

Petitioner Reginald Shepard was indicted under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) [18 USCS § 922(g)(1)], barring felons from possessing a firearm, and pleaded guilty. At sentencing the Government claimed that Shepard's prior convictions raised his sentencing range from between 30 and 37 months (under the United States  [***212]  Sentencing Guidelines) to the 15-year minimum required by § 924(e), pointing to four prior convictions entered upon Shepard's pleas of guilty under one of Massachusetts's two burglary statutes. 1 Whereas the Government said that each conviction represented a predicate ACCA offense of generic burglary, the District Court ruled that Taylor barred counting any of the prior convictions as predicates for the mandatory minimum.  125 F. Supp. 2d 562, 569 (Mass. 2000). 

 [****9]  LEdHN[3][] [3] In Taylor we read the listing of "burglary" as a predicate "violent felony" (in the ACCA) to refer to what we called  [*17]  "generic burglary," an "unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or structure, with intent to commit a crime."  495 U.S., at 599, 109 L. Ed. 2d 607, 110 S. Ct. 2143. Because statutes in some States (like Massachusetts) define burglary more broadly, as by extending it to entries into boats and cars, we had to consider how a later court sentencing under the ACCA might tell whether a prior burglary conviction was for the generic offense. 2 We held [**1258]  that the ACCA generally prohibits the later court from delving into particular facts disclosed by the record of conviction, thus leaving the court normally to "look only to the fact of conviction and the statutory definition of the prior offense."  Id., at 602, 109 L. Ed. 2d 607, 110 S. Ct. 2143. We recognized an exception to this "categorical approach" only for "a narrow range of cases where a jury [in a State with a broader definition of burglary] was actually required to find all the elements of" the generic offense. Ibid. We held the exception applicable "if the indictment or information and jury instructions show that the defendant [****10]  was charged only with a burglary of a building, and that the jury necessarily had to find an entry of a building to convict . . . ." Ibid. Only then might a conviction under a "nongeneric" burglary statute qualify as an ACCA predicate.

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

544 U.S. 13 *; 125 S. Ct. 1254 **; 161 L. Ed. 2d 205 ***; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 2205 ****; 73 U.S.L.W. 4186; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 169


Subsequent History: Motion denied by, Costs and fees proceeding at  Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 1059, 125 S. Ct. 2514, 161 L. Ed. 2d 1109, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 4362 (U.S., May 31, 2005)


 United States v. Shepard, 348 F.3d 308, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 22584 (1st Cir. Mass., 2003)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

generic, burglary, guilty plea, sentence, prior conviction, convictions, police report, documents, cases, charging document, nongeneric, records, district court, factual basis, predicate, pleaded, jury instructions, violent felony, jury trial, instructions, disputed, offenses, punished, courts, burglary conviction, plea agreement, prior crime, burglarizing, proceedings, complaints

Criminal Law & Procedure, Burglary & Criminal Trespass, Burglary, General Overview, Theft & Related Offenses, Entry of Pleas, Guilty Pleas, Adjustments & Enhancements, Criminal History, Three Strikes, Jury Instructions, Particular Instructions, Elements of Offense, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Legislation, Interpretation, Preliminary Proceedings, Types of Pleas