Conviction at CM can qualify under the ACCA

Do I have a felony is a frequent question to which the answer is – maybe.  Of course the questioner is interested in the collateral effect of a special or general court-martial conviction.  This becomes particularly important if you continue to commit crimes after release from the brig and the military.

Are courts-martial courts under the Armed Career Career Criminal Act – yes says The Fourth, as do The Ninth and The Seventh.

Pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), and section 4B1.4 of the Guidelines, an individual who violates § 922(g) and has “three previous convictions by any court referred to in section 922(g)(1) . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another” qualifies as an armed career criminal. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1) (emphasis added).

United States v. Grant, ___ F.3d ____ (4th Cir. June 3, 2014), slip op. at 4.

Grant challenged a determination that a general court-martial conviction for aggravated assault and for kidnapping was not from a qualifying court under the ACCA.  This is a case of statutory interpretation of the language conviction by “any” court.  First the court determines that a qualifying court needs to be a domestic court, referring to Small v. United States, 544 U.S. 385 (2005).  The court then engages in a review and discussion of the court-martial jurisdiction and procedure.

The court adopts the reasoning in United States v. Martinez, 122 F.3d 421 (7th Cir. 1997), and United States v. MacDonald, 992 F.2d 967 (9th Cir. 1993); each of which appears to be based on United States v. Lee, 428 F.2d 917 (6th Cir. 1970).

Note:  All I can find on LEXIS is a petition to CMA in October 1980, from ACMR.