Enacted in 1998, the Massachusetts Armed Career Criminal Statute, M.G.L. c. 269, section 10G, otherwise known as "ACC", imposes enhanced penalties for persons previously convicted of a "violent crime" or a "serious drug offense."
Depending on the number of prior convictions that might form the basis of an ACC enhanced indictment, a person may be indicted as an armed career criminal as a level 1, 2 or 3. ACC Level 1 provides for an additional punishment of a minimum-mandatory sentence of 3 to 15 years; Level 2 provides for 10-15 years; and Level 3 provides for a 15-20 year sentence to state prison.
But what "violent crime" is sufficient to form a basis of an enhance Armed Career Criminal indictment?
Massachusetts criminal law defines a violent crime as:
Any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year...that:
- has as an element the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force or a deadly weapon against the person of another;
- is burglary, extortion, arson or kidnapping;
- involves the use of explosives; or
- otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another.
However, some crimes that might appear to be "violent crimes" may not qualify as a predicate "violent crime", such as the crime of Assault & Battery, which may be prosecuted under various theories. For instance, a "harmful battery" and "reckless battery" are violent crimes because they each have as an element the use of "physical force".
Another theory of Assault & Battery, however, is an "offensive battery", which does not have as an element the use of "physical force".
Especially in cases where someone is charged with an enhanced sentencing indictment such as under the Armed Career Criminal Statute, it is so critical that they are represented by an experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer that knows the law well and how to apply that knowledge in the defense of his client.