United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge
Moir Hylton, Jr., a federal inmate, has filed an authorized
successive motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that his
enhanced sentence as an armed career criminal under the Armed
Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"), 18 U.S.C. §
924(e), is unlawful. After consideration of the record and
applicable caselaw, the court concludes that Hylton's
motion must be dismissed.
pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(e).
Hylton's Presentence Investigation Report
("PSR") recommended that he receive an increased
sentence because he qualified as an armed career criminal in
that he had at least three prior convictions for a violent
felony or a serious drug offense, or both. PSR ¶ 19, ECF
No. 70. The predicate offenses supporting his status as an
armed career criminal include two prior Virginia convictions
for unlawful wounding, one prior Virginia conviction for
malicious wounding, and one prior Virginia conviction for
burglary. Id. ¶¶ 25, 27, 28, and
31. On March 8, 2010, the court sentenced Hylton to a total
of 180 months' incarceration after adopting the PSR and
concluding that he was an armed career criminal. Hylton
appealed but the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence.
United States v. Hylton, 429 Fed.Appx. 329, 330 (4th
Cir. 2011) (unpublished).
court appointed the Federal Public Defender's Office to
represent Hylton and provide briefing, if necessary, in light
of the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2563 (2015), pursuant to
Standing Order 2015-5. The Federal Public Defender's
Office filed a § 2255 motion on Hylton's behalf. On
September 28, 2017, the court stayed the case pending a
decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit in United States v. Jenkins, Case No.
16-4121. Jenkins has now been decided, No. 16-4121,
2018 WL 1225728 (4th Cir. March 9, 2018) (unpublished);
accordingly, the § 2255 motion is ripe for review.
state a viable claim for relief under § 2255, a
petitioner must prove: (1) that his or her sentence was
"imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States;" (2) that "the court was without
jurisdiction to impose such sentence;" or (3) that
"the sentence was in i i excess of the
maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to
collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Hylton
bears the burden of proving grounds for a collateral attack
by a preponderance of the evidence. Miller v. United
States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958).
The ACCA Enhanced Sentence Structure
claims that he no longer qualifies as an armed career
criminal because his unlawful wounding, malicious wounding,
and burglary convictions cannot be used to support an
enhanced sentence under the ACCA. His argument with regard to
unlawful and malicious wounding is foreclosed by
law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms. 18
U.S.C. § 922(g). Defendants who violate this law are
subject to a term of up to ten years' imprisonment. 18
U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). However, when defendants convicted
of a § 922(g) charge have three or more prior
convictions for "serious drug offenses" or
"violent felonies, " they qualify as armed career
criminals under the ACCA. Armed career criminals face an
increased punishment: a statutory mandatory minimum of
fifteen years' imprisonment and a maximum of life. 18
U.S.C. § 924(e)(1).
Johnson, the Supreme Court invalidated part of the
definition of "violent felony" under the ACCA. 135
S.Ct. at 2563. The ACCA defines a "violent felony"
[A]ny 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 ...