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The Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (ACCA) is a United States federal law that provides sentence enhancements for felons who commit crimes with firearms, if convicted of certain crimes three or more times.
If a felon has been convicted more than twice of a "violent felony" or a "serious" drug crime, the Act provides a minimum sentence of fifteen years, instead of the ten-year maximum prescribed under the Gun Control Act. The Act provides for a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The ACCA has been through numerous revisions in Congress and has evolved considerably since its passage in 1984.
The ACCA was originally included with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 sponsored by the Reagan Administration and enhanced the penalties for possession of firearms under the Gun Control Act for felons who had been convicted three times of robbery or burglary.
The definition of a "serious" drug crime was considered and further defined by the Supreme Court in United States v. Rodriquez. In Taylor v. United States, the Court was called upon to determine the meaning of the word "burglary" in ACCA and, specifically, whether a conviction in Missouri for second-degree burglary was, in fact, a predicate conviction. The court concluded that an offense constitutes "burglary" under 924(e) if, regardless of its exact definition or label, it has the basic elements of burglary.