Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) Law & Legal Definition


The Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (ACCA) is a U.S federal law that provides sentence enhancements for felons who commit crimes with firearms, if convicted of certain crimes three or more times. This law imposes special mandatory prison term of fifteen years on a felon who unlawfully possessed firearm, and has had three or more previous convictions for "violent felony" among others.

The Armed Career Criminal Act defines a "violent felony" as any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year that (i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or (ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another. [18 U.S.C.S. § 924(e)(2)(B). ]

The Armed Career Criminal Act focuses upon the special danger created when a particular type of offender like a violent criminal or drug trafficker who possesses a gun. In order to determine which offenders fall into this category, the Act looks to past crimes. This is because an offender's criminal history is relevant to the question whether s/he is a career criminal, or, more precisely, to the kind or degree of danger the offender would pose were he to possess a gun.[ Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137 (U.S. 2008)]

In Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137 (U.S. 2008) the U.S Supreme court held that driving under influence of alcohol is not a "violent felony" for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act.