INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s decision in United States v. Joseph Johnson recently affirmed that certain violations of Indiana’s domestic battery statute, I.C. § 35-42-2-1.3, qualify as a “violent felony” under the Federal Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B). This decision resolves a long-standing debate whether domestic battery in the presence of a child under the age of 16 qualifies as a “violent felony.” As such, violators face significantly stiffer penalties than they would otherwise face.
“No relationship deserves the use or threat of physical violence, said Hogsett. “This court decision adds tools to our prosecution strategies to help keep victims safe from their attackers.”
The Federal Armed Career Criminal Act punishes an individual who possesses a firearm and has at least three prior violent felony convictions with a fifteen year mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment. Prior to this decision in Johnson, there was no precedent stating that certain violations of Indiana’s domestic battery statute are considered “violent felonies” under the Act.
On September 12, 2013, Joseph Johnson, age 35, Indianapolis, Indiana, was sentenced by the Honorable William T. Lawrence, United States District Court Judge, to fifteen years imprisonment for possessing a firearm by convicted felon.
Johnson has an extensive criminal history in Marion County, including violent felony convictions for robbery, resisting law enforcement, and domestic battery in the presence of a child under the age of sixteen. Johnson’s domestic battery conviction was particularly violent.
As described by the United States Attorney’s Office at Johnson’s sentencing hearing, Johnson repeatedly punched his victim in the face, threw a buckle at her head causing a laceration, forced her to the floor, and laid on top of her all night while pouring water on her face to keep her awake. Johnson’s children were present to witness this abuse.