USA v. Torres

The defendant was found guilty of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and sentenced to a mandatory-minimum sentence of 15 years, as required by the Armed Career Criminal Act and the defendant’s three prior qualifying convictions. The defendant appealed, claiming his motion to suppress should have been granted and that he had only two qualifying convictions under the ACCA. The 3rd Circuit affirmed on both grounds. A tipster hailed down a local police officer and adamantly insisted that he had just seen a man fire a handgun into a vacant building. The tipster gave a detailed description but the officer did not take down an identifying information from the tipster. Nonetheless, he soon found the defendant, who matched the description. The officer then detained the defendant at gunpoint and recovered the firearm. The Court found this to be a reasonable detention under the factors set forth in United States v. Brown, 448 F.3d 239 (3rd Cir. 2006). The Court also joined its sister circuits in holding that the defendant had at least three predicate offenses under the ACCA, as he had two state-level drug convictions and one federal drug conspiracy conviction. Though the federal conspiracy conviction included the two state charges within its allegations, the federal charge involved more than merely the two state cases, thus it was a separate episode and broader than the two state charges.