In Somers v. United States, No. 19-11484 (Apr. 25, 2023) (Jill Pryor, Anderson, Marcus), the Court affirmed Mr. Somers’s ACCA-enhanced sentence.
Mr. Somers argued that his prior conviction for Florida aggravated assault with a deadly weapon could not serve as an ACCA predicate because it can be committed with a mens rea of recklessness.
The Court disagreed, and held that, because aggravated assault under Florida law requires a mens rea of at least knowing conduct, it qualifies as an ACCA predicate offense under Borden.
In so holding, the Court relied on guidance from the Florida Supreme Court, which held that the first element of the assault statute, section 784.011(1), requires not just the general intent to volitionally take the action of threatening to do violence, but also that the actor directs the threat at a target, namely another person. That is, the Florida Supreme Court held that the Florida assault statute demands the specific intent to direct a threat at another person and therefore cannot be violated by a reckless act.