Archive | crime of violence

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Daye of the Weak

United States v. Daye, No. 08-1012-cr (2d Cir. July 10, 2009) (Miner, Raggi, Livingston, CJJ)

Bruce Daye received an 180-month ACCA sentence. On appeal, he raised challenges to the use of all of his prior convictions as ACCA predicates, and the court sent the case back for further findings.

1. Escape

One of Daye’s prior convictions was for escape, most likely under Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 1501. At the time of his federal sentencing, circuit law provided that, categorically, all escape convictions were crimes of violence for ACCA. Thus, although defense counsel objected to the characterization of the escape as a crime of violence, the district court made no findings as to the nature of the escape, which is now dispositive under Chambers v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 687 (2009).

Here, the PSR strongly suggested that Daye’s conviction arose from failing to return from a furlough, rendering it …


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No Escape

United States v. Mills, No. 07-0308-cr (2d Cir. June 26, 2009) (Kearse, Sack, Livingston, CJJ) (per curiam)

Gary Mills was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), and received a 188-month sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) (ACCA). But for ACCA, his statutory maximum would have been 120 months’ imprisonment.

On appeal he argued, and both the government and the court of appeals agreed, that under Chambers v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 687 (2009), his Connecticut conviction for first-degree escape was not a violent felony.

The Connecticut statute proscribes a variety of conduct, ranging from escape from a correctional institution (which probably is a crime of violence) to failing to return to a halfway house or from a furlough. Here, at the sentencing hearing, the evidence established that Mills had been released from prison to “transitional supervision.” He lived in a private residence, but was …


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Friday, February 6th, 2009

Building Block

United States v. Hurell, No. 06-5653-cr (2d Cir. January 28, 2009) (Kearse, Calabresi, Sack, CJJ) (per curiam)

In each of these three consolidated cases, all government appeals, the district court held that New York convictions for burglary in the third degree or attempted burglary in the third degree were not crimes of violence as defined in the career offender provisions of the Sentencing Guidelines. Based on an intervening decision, United States v. Brown, 514 F.3d 256 (2d Cir. 2008), the court reversed.

More importantly, however, the court noted that there is a circuit split on whether burglary of a building, as opposed to a dwelling, constitutes a crime of violence under the relevant sections. The court not weigh in on the issue here, but rather called upon the Sentencing Commission resolve it, noting that the issue is of “particular significance” in the quest to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities.…


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Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Glitter and Begay

United States v. Gray, No. 07-3636-cr (2d Cir. July 25, 2008) (Wesley, Hall, CJJ, Koeltl, DJ)

In New York, reckless endangerment in the first degree involves conduct “evincing a depraved indifference to human life” that “creates a grave risk of death to another person.” Nevertheless, under Begay v. United States, 128 S.Ct. 1581 (2008), the circuit here concludes, it is not a “crime of violence.”

Under Begay, which interpreted the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), an offense must present a degree of risk similar to, and proscribe conduct that is similar in kind to, the offenses listed in the statute – burglary, arson, extortion and offenses involving explosives – to qualify as a “crime of violence.” For “in kind” similarity, the statute must involve conduct that is “purposeful,” “violent,” and “aggressive.”

Here, the court applied this same rubric to the definition of “crime of violence” in sentencing …


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Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Risky Business

United States v. Lynch, No. 05-6048-cr (2d Cir. February 27, 2008) (Calabresi, Raggi, Hall, CJJ)

David Lynch received a 15-year sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) and appealed. In an opinion that covered no new ground, the circuit affirmed. It held (again) that New York State convictions for attempted burglary in the third degree (N.Y. Penal Law §§ 110/140.20) and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (N.Y. Penal Law § 265.03) both involve “conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”

For the attempted burglary, the court reaffirmed its decision in United States v. Andrello, 9 F.3d 247 (2d Cir. 1993) (per curiam), and also noted that a recent Supreme Court case, James v. United States, 127 S.Ct. 1586 (2007), held that attempted burglary is an ACCA predicate.

Similarly, in United States v. Danielson, 199 F.3d 666 (2d Cir. 1999) (per …


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Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Burglar Alarm

United States v. Brown, No. 05-5462-cr (2d Cir. January 30, 2008) (Kearse, Hall, CJJ, Rakoff, DJ)

This opinion deals with a seemingly straightforward issue: whether a New York State conviction for burglary in the third degree is a “crime of violence” under Guidelines section 4B1.2(a). It turns out, however, that the issue has a complication.

In Brown’s case, the district court held that the burglary conviction increased his offense level under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a), which uses the Chapter 4 definition of crime of violence. The complication is that, under this definition, a crime of violence is “an offense . . . that . . . is burglary of a dwelling . . . or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk” of injury. The New York statute proscribes burglary of a “building,” which is broader than a “dwelling,” thus third-degree burglary can only be a crime of violence …


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