Facts of the Case
Federal law made the possession of a firearm by a felon a crime punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years. However, the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 increased that sentence to a mandatory 15 years to life if the offender had three or more prior convictions for a serious drug offense or a violent felony. The definition of violent felony included the so-called residual clause, covering any felony that otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” In
Does the rule the Supreme Court announced in Johnson v. United States regarding what constitutes a violent offense apply retroactively?
The rule that the Supreme Court announced in Johnson v. United States regarding what constitutes a violent offense for the purposes of sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act applies retroactively. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivered the opinion for the 7-1 majority. The Court held that the rule announced in Johnson, that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) was unconstitutionally vague, was a substantive rule of criminal procedure because it altered “the range of conduct or class of persons that the law punishes.” Unlike procedural rules that alter the permissible methods for determining whether conduct is punishable, substantive rules affect the reach of the statute itself rather than how it is applied. While procedural rules are generally not retroactive, substantive rules are