Heard: April 5, 2018.
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on June
20, 2016. A question of law was reported by Christopher J.
Muse, J., to the Appeals Court.
Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct
F. Hennessy for the defendant.
P. Zanini, Assistant District Attorney (Stacey Pichardo
Corson, Assistant District Attorney, also present) for the
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher,
& Kafker, JJ.
case presents the question whether, in light of Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), juvenile delinquency
adjudications for violent offenses may serve as predicate
offenses for adults indicted under G. L. c. 269, § 10G,
the armed career criminal act (ACCA),  We conclude that
eighteen, the defendant, Brandon Baez, was indicted for a
violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a.), unlawful
possession of a firearm. If convicted, and if he had no
qualifying convictions for sentence enhancement, he would
"be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not
less than two and one-half years nor more than five years, or
for not less than [eighteen] months nor more than two and
one-half years in a jail or house of correction." G. L.
c. 269, § 10 (a.) (6) .
defendant had twice been adjudicated delinquent for crimes of
violence as defined by the Legislature; therefore, the
Commonwealth charged the defendant with violating §
The ACCA mandates enhanced sentencing for adults who violate
G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a.), (c0, or (h), and have
"been previously convicted of a violent crime or of a
serious drug offense."G. L. c. 269, § 10G (a.) -
(c) . In other circumstances, we have determined that when
the Legislature used the word "conviction" rather
than adjudication, it meant to exclude juvenile delinquency
adjudications. See generally Commonwealth v. Connor
C., 432 Mass. 635, 646 (2000) ("We adhere to our
long-standing jurisprudence that an 'adjudication'
that a child has violated a law generally is not a
'conviction' of a crime"). Here, the Legislature
imported the definition of "violent crime" from G.
L. c. 140, § 121, which includes "any act of
juvenile delinquency involving the use or possession of a
deadly weapon that would be punishable by imprisonment for
such term if committed by an adult." See
Commonwealth v. Anderson, 461 Mass. 616, 631, cert,
denied, 568 U.S. 946 (2012); Commonwealth v. Furr,
58 Mass.App.Ct. 155, 157-158 (2003) .
ACCA creates a tiered system of punishment. Those with one
applicable conviction "shall be punished by imprisonment
in the state prison for not less than three years nor more
than [fifteen] years." Those with two applicable
convictions, such as the defendant, "shall be punished
by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than ten
years nor more than [fifteen] years." Those with three
applicable convictions "shall be punished by
imprisonment in the state prison for not less than [fifteen]
years nor more than [twenty] years." G. L. c. 269,
§ 10G (a)-(c).
the defendant's current case was proceeding, a judge in
the Superior Court raised sua sponte the issue whether using
juvenile adjudications to enhance sentencing in the same
manner as adult convictions violated due process
rights and protections under the Eighth Amendment
to the United States Constitution. The judge invited the
defendant to file a motion to dismiss on these grounds and
reported the following question to the Appeals Court:
"Whether in light of Miller v. Alabama, [567
U.S. 460 (2012)], a juvenile adjudication may be used as a
predicate offense for enhanced penalties under G. L. c. 269,
§ 10G." We subsequently allowed the defendant's
application for direct appellate review.