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United States v. Ridens

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

July 10, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RYAN RIDENS, Defendant-Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS. (D.C. NO. 2:13-CR-20021-JWL-1).

Submitted on the Briefs: Melanie S. Morgan, Morgan Pilate LLC, Kansas City, Missouri, for Appellant.

James A. Brown, Assistant United States Attorney (Barry R. Grissom, United States Attorney, with him on the brief), Office of the United States Attorney, Topeka, Kansas, for Appellee.

Before HARTZ, BALDOCK, and TYMKOVICH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

TYMKOVICH, Circuit Judge.

After pleading guilty to a gun offense, Ryan Ridens received the fifteen-year mandatory-minimum sentence enhancement established by the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) for certain felons with three or more prior convictions for " violent felon[ies]" or " serious drug offense[s]." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). He claims, however, the district court erred in imposing the enhancement because (1) a burglary conviction used to trigger the sentence should not have counted as a " violent felony" because there was insufficient proof that it was a qualifying burglary within the meaning of the ACCA, and (2) triggering the mandatory minimum with the judicially found fact of his three prior qualifying convictions violated the Sixth Amendment.

But there is ample proof the burglary conviction was a qualifying burglary. The conviction was based on a " generically limited charging document" -- i.e., one that " narrowed the charges to the generic limit," Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13, 17, 21, 125 S.Ct. 1254, 161 L.Ed.2d 205 (2005), and, because Ridens pleaded guilty to a charging document that described the elements of a generic burglary conviction, he committed a qualifying violent felony. And, as he concedes, his Sixth Amendment challenge is foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent.

Thus, exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and 18 U.S.C. § 3742(a), we AFFIRM.

I. Background

The relevant facts are straightforward. Ridens pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). After finding Ridens had three prior felony convictions for either a violent felony or serious drug offense, the district court applied the ACCA enhancement at sentencing. Ridens objected to the characterization of a past Kansas burglary conviction as a violent felony and to the use of judge-found facts to trigger an enhanced sentence.[1]

II. Analysis

A. Kansas Burglary Conviction

We review de novo " whether a defendant's prior conviction qualifies as a violent felony under the ACCA." United States v. Cartwright, 678 F.3d 907, 909 (10th Cir. 2012). The ACCA establishes a fifteen-year mandatory-minimum sentence for any defendant who unlawfully possesses a firearm after three or more convictions for either " a violent felony or a serious drug offense." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). The statute explicitly lists burglary as a qualifying violent felony. Id. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii). Because Ridens only attacks the district court's determination that the Kansas burglary conviction was a qualifying violent felony, the only question is whether that burglary conviction indeed qualifies.

This analysis is simple when a state's definition of burglary fits the " generic" definition of burglary--" an unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or other structure, with intent to commit a crime." United States v. Trent, 767 F.3d 1046, 1053 (10th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 1447, 191 L.Ed.2d 400 (2015). In such cases, we apply the " categorical approach, which looks only at the elements of the statute under which the defendant was convicted." Id. at 1052 ...


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