Defining “Occasion” — The Finale

Over a year ago, I noted in this post that the U.S. Supreme Court had taken up the case of Wooden v. United States to resolve what amounts to separate “occasions” in the Armed Career Criminal Act. There is widespread agreement that repeat offenders should be dealt with more severely than one-timers, but the distinction between repeating and committing multiple crimes in one incident sometimes makes for difficult line-drawing. I noted in the previous post:

Breaking into 10 different units at a self-storage place is 10 counts of burglary under Georgia law. That seems reasonable, given 10 separate breakings and 10 separate entries to steal the possessions of 10 separate victims. But if they are done one after another is that 10 different occasions for the purpose of the recidivist statute? That seems like a stretch.

Not surprisingly, the Court’s decision today was unanimous in the judgment that counting 10 occasions for the purpose of the ACCA was an overreach.

There are some interesting divisions in the concurring opinions on such wide-ranging subjects as the rule of lenity, the presumption of mens rea, and imputing to Congress an intent to abrogate a particular decision.

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