USA v. Villarreal
Opinion Date: December 5, 2023
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
This case involves Rolando Villarreal who pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. His sentence was enhanced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) due to a prior burglary and two prior aggravated assaults. Villarreal challenged the enhancement under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that his sentence was improperly enhanced under the ACCA's elements or force clause based on the predicate offense that allowed conviction for reckless conduct, a claim subsequently termed a "Borden claim."
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that Villarreal did assert a Borden claim in his § 2255 motion and that his sentence was "in excess of the maximum authorized by law." This was due to the fact that, after the ruling in Borden v. United States, the convictions under the relevant aggravated assault statute could not constitute predicate offenses under the ACCA as they do not require the "physical use of force against the person of another."
As a result, the Court of Appeals vacated Villarreal’s sentence and remanded the case back to the district court with instructions to resentence Villarreal without consideration of the ACCA.
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