from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Kentucky at Paducah. No. 5:17-cr-00014-1-Thomas
B. Russell, District Judge.
Christian J. Grostic, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Cleveland,
Ohio, for Appellant.
Gilbert, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Louisville,
Kentucky, for Appellee.
Before: WHITE, BUSH, and LARSEN, Circuit Judges.
N. WHITE, Circuit Judge.
jury convicted defendant-appellant Renerto Mayes of being a
felon in possession of a firearm, the district court
sentenced him to 180 months' imprisonment under the Armed
Career Criminal Act (ACCA) based on five previous convictions
for serious drug offenses under Kentucky law. Mayes appeals,
arguing that because the Kentucky legislature reduced the
maximum penalty for three of his offenses from ten years to
five years, the district court erred in sentencing him as an
armed career criminal. We AFFIRM.
the ACCA, a defendant who violates 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)
and has "three previous convictions . . . for a violent
felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on
occasions different from one another . . . shall be . . .
imprisoned not less than fifteen years." 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(e)(1). A serious drug offense includes "an
offense under State law, involving manufacturing,
distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or
distribute, a controlled substance . . . for which a maximum
term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed by
law." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii).
at the time of sentencing each of Mayes's five previous
Kentucky convictions for trafficking cocaine carried a
maximum prison term of ten years, the probation office
determined the offenses qualified as "serious drug
offense[s]" under the ACCA, 18 U.S.C. §
924(e)(2)(A)(ii). Mayes objected to the PSR's armed
career criminal designation, asserting that the maximum
ten-year sentence for his three 2006 offenses had been
reduced to five years by the Kentucky legislature in 2011. As
a result, Mayes argued, only two of his previous convictions
qualified as serious drug offenses and the ACCA's
mandatory minimum sentence did not apply.
district court rejected Mayes's arguments, relying on
McNeill v. United States, 563 U.S. 816 (2011), which
held that a court must consult the law that applied at the
time of the previous conviction to determine whether that
conviction qualifies as a serious drug offense within the
meaning of ACCA. The district court determined that Mayes is
an armed career criminal and sentenced him below the
guidelines range to the fifteen-year statutory mandatory
minimum term under the ACCA. Mayes now appeals.
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
court reviews de novo whether a prior conviction is a
"serious drug offense" under the ACCA. United
States v. Stafford, 721 F.3d 380, 395-96 (6th Cir.
determine whether a particular offense qualifies as a serious
drug offense, the court applies a "categorical
approach," which looks "only to the statutory
definitions-i.e., the elements-of a defendant's
prior offenses, and not to the particular facts
underlying those convictions." Descamps v. United
States, 570 U.S. 254, 261 (2013) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). Further, the inquiry turns on
the elements of the offense, and not the label state law
places on it. Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575,
588-89 (1990) ("Congress intended that the enhancement
provision [of the ACCA] be triggered by crimes having certain