Archive | crime of violence

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

A Crime that Can be Committed by Inaction is Not a “Crime of Violence”

The Second Circuit held this week that an offense is not a “crime of violence [if] it can be committed by complete inaction and therefore without the use of force.”  United States v. Scott, ___ F.3d ___, 2020 WL 1522825, at *1 (2d Cir. Mar. 31, 2020).

Mr. Scott had originally been subjected to the Armed Career Criminal Act’s 15-year mandatory minimum, along with the Career Offender Guideline, based on two prior convictions for New York manslaughter in the first degree.  Someone is guilty of that offense when, “[w]ith intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person.”  N.Y. Penal Law § 125.20(1).  New York’s highest court has said this statute reaches a parent’s “failure to obtain medical care for a child.”  People v. Steinberg, 79 N.Y.2d 673, 680 (1992).  See also id(“The Penal …


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Categories: ACCA, career offender, crime of violence

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Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Committing or threatening violence is a “crime of violence.”

For one brief, beautiful moment, it seemed like nothing could ever be a crime of violence. But the pendulum is swinging back and now everything is becoming a crime of violence once again.

In United States v. Nikolla, 17-2206-cr (2d Cir. Feb. 19, 2020), the Second Circuit held that threatening violence in furtherance of an extortion plan, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), is categorically a “crime of violence” under the force (or elements) clause of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

In Nikolla, the defendant pled guilty to several charges, including a § 924(c) offense, pursuant to a written plea agreement. On appeal, he nonetheless challenged his § 924(c) conviction. In upholding this conviction, the Circuit found § 1951(a) divisible and noted that the defendant pled guilty to the provision which applies to a defendant who “commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property in furtherance” …


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Categories: 924(c), crime of violence

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Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Second Circuit Holds N.Y. Attempted Second Degree Assault With a Deadly Weapon (N.Y.P.L. §120.05. (2) ) a “Crime of Violence” Under Force Clause and §846 Narcotics Conspiracy a “Controlled Substance Offense.”

In United States v. Tabb, __ F.3d __, 2020 WL 573379 (2d Cir. Feb. 6, 2020), the Court of Appeals held that New York’s attempted assault in the second degree with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument qualifies as a crime of violence under the force clause. The Court had previously held, in Singh v. Barr, 939 F.3d 457 (2d Cir. 2019), that the completed crime qualifies under the force. It relied here on Singh and on its pre-Johnson decision in United States v. Walker, 442 F.3d 787 (2d Cir. 2006), which held that attempted assault with a deadly weapon was a violent felony under the ACCA’s force clause. The Court followed Singh in rejecting the argument, based on Chrzanoski v. Ashcroft, 327 F.3d 188 (2d Cir. 2003), that the substantive offense could be committed by indirect force or omission. Chrzanoski held that Connecticut third


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Categories: assault, attempt, conspiracy, crime of violence

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Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Another Court Rules Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery is NOT a “Crime of Violence”

As blogged about here, Judge Johnson of the E.D.N.Y. has ruled that attempted Hobbs Act robbery is not a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

He’s just been joined by Judge Telesca of the W.D.N.Y.  “[A]ttempted Hobbs Act robbery does not categorically entail the use, threatened use, or attempted use of force.”  Lofton v. United States, 2020 WL 362348, at *9 (W.D.N.Y. Jan. 22, 2020).  That is because the “requisite categorical approach,” by “which a court must examine ‘the minimum criminal conduct necessary for conviction,’” shows that the crime can be committed “‘without any use, attempted use, or threatened use of violence.’”  Id. at *7 (citations omitted).

As briefed in a pending case, United States v. Pica, E.D.N.Y. 08-559, the minimum conduct for attempted Hobbs Act robbery is surveilling a target with the intent to rob him but not actually use force: in short, to bluff.  …


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Categories: 924(c), crime of violence, Hobbs Act, robbery

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Friday, January 10th, 2020

EDNY: Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery Is Not A § 924(c) Crime of Violence.

In United States v. Tucker, 2020 WL 93951 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 8, 2020), the district court (Johnson, J.), held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery is not a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and granted defendant’s pretrial motion to dismiss a § 924(c) count predicated on that offense.

Tucker reasons as follows: An attempt requires only a substantial step toward completing the object crime, and for Hobbs Act robbery, “the Second Circuit has found ‘reconnoitering the place contemplated for the commission of the crime’ or possession of ‘paraphernalia to be employed in the commission of the crime’ to be sufficient to constitute a ‘substantial step.’” Tucker, 2020 WL 93951, at *5 (quoting United States v. Jackson, 560 F.2d 112, 120 (2d Cir. 1977)). Such conduct is not necessarily forceful or violent:

“[A] person may engage in an overt act—in the case of robbery, for example, … …


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Categories: 924(c), crime of violence, Hobbs Act, robbery

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Friday, November 1st, 2019

Connecticut First-Degree Robbery is a Crime of Violence Under Section 16(a)

Continuing to develop its “crime of violence” jurisprudence, the Second Circuit held that Connecticut first-degree robbery, Section 53a-134(a)(4), is a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 16(a).

In Wood v. Barr, 17-514-ag (2d Cir. Nov. 1, 2019), a lawful permanent resident facing deportation argued that his Connecticut robbery conviction was not a “crime of violence,” and therefore not an aggravated felony.

Since the Supreme Court struck down Section 16(b)’s so-called residual clause in Sessions v. Dimaya, the Second Circuit focused on Section 16(a)’s elements clause. This provision defines a “crime of violence” as an offense that has an element requiring “the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.” The Circuit adopted its rationale in an earlier decision, United States v. Bordeaux, 886 F.3d 189 (2d Cir. 2018), which addressed New York first-degree robbery. The Circuit noted that …


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Categories: crime of violence, robbery

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Friday, October 4th, 2019

Second Circuit Panel holds residual clause definition of “crime of violence” in the Bail Reform Act is not void for vagueness

In today’s United States v. Watkins, No. 18-3076, a panel of the Second Circuit held the residual clause definition of “crime of violence” in the Bail Reform Act is not void for vagueness.

This may surprise some observers, as the Bail Reform Act’s residual clause is identical to – and subject to the same categorical approach as – the residual clauses the Supreme Court struck down for vagueness in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), and United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019).

Moreover, the Second Circuit’s ruling is plainly moot: after being denied bail, Mr. Watkins pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison.  See United States v. Watkins, W.D.N.Y. No. 18-cr-131.  Only now, months later, has the panel weighed in on whether the residual clause of the “crime of violence” definition in the Bail Reform Act is void for vagueness.  But …


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Categories: crime of violence, Davis, Johnson, Uncategorized

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Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Circuit Affirms Conviction and Sentence for Felon in Possession of a Firearm

In United States v. Wiggins, No. 18-1337-cr, __ F. App’x __ (2d Cir. Sept. 30, 2019), the Court summarily affirmed the defendant’s conviction and 78-month prison sentence for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. First, the Court rejected the defendant’s argument that suppression was required because the district court improperly authorized a second search warrant of his cellphone despite the absence of probable cause. Even if probable cause was lacking, the Court ruled, the police officers executed the warrant in good faith, such that suppression was not required.

Second, the Court upheld evidentiary rulings: (1) admitting certain text messages; and (2) excluding sweatpants that the defendant allegedly wore at the time of his arrest, police recordings of his arrest, and a summary of those recordings.

The text messages tended to show that the defendant had access to a firearm as recently as a “few weeks” before his arrest …


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Categories: crime of violence, evidence, good faith, search warrant

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Friday, August 30th, 2019

FINAL DECISION by the Second Circuit in BARRETT

Because the residual clause of 18 U.S.C.§  924(c)(3)(B)  is unconstitutionally vague, “conspiracy” to commit Hobbs Act robbery isn’t a qualifying 924(c) predicate, since Hobbs Act conspiracy doesn’t meet the elements clause of § 924(c)(c)(3)(A). United States v. Barrett, No. 14-2641-cr, __F.3d__, 2019 WL 4121728  (Aug. 30, 2019). 

The Supreme Court vacated the Second Circuit’s original judgment that affirmed Barrett’s conviction (see 903 F.3d 166). And it remanded the case to the Circuit for further consideration in light of United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (June 24, 2019). See  Barrett v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2774 (June 28, 2019) (“petition for writ of certiorari granted. Judgment vacated, and case remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for further consideration in light of United States v. Davis[.]”).

In United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019), the Supreme …


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Categories: 924(c), conspiracy, crime of violence, Davis, Hobbs Act, Johnson

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Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Federal Second-Degree Murder is Not a Crime of Violence …

In the Ninth Circuit, at least. This week in United States v. Begay, No. 14-10080, 2019 WL 3884261 (9th Cir. Aug. 19, 2019), the Ninth Circuit held that second-degree murder, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1111, is not a crime of violence for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

In Begay, the defendant, “[a]fter a few hours of drinking and smoking methamphetamine,” “shot [the victim] in the head with a handgun,” killing him. The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii).

The Ninth Circuit vacated the § 924(c) conviction. The Circuit applied the categorical approach to determine whether second-degree murder qualifies as a crime of violence, looking to the elements of that offense rather than the specific facts of the case. (And after United States v. Davis, an offense must qualify …


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Categories: 924(c), crime of violence, murder

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Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

Is attempted Hobbs Act robbery a “crime of violence” for purposes of § 924(c) after Davis?

In the Second Circuit, a substantive Hobbs Act robbery qualifies as a “crime of violence” for purposes of § 924(c) under its elements (or force) clause, § 924(c)(3)(A). See United States v. Hill, 890 F.3d 51 (2d Cir. 2018). But a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a crime of violence for purposes of § 924(c), because United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (June 24, 2019), invalidated the residual clause of § 924(c)(3)(B) as unconstitutionally vague (and a conspiracy does not qualify under the elements clause).

That leaves the question of whether attempted Hobbs Act robbery qualifies as a § 924(c) crime of violence after Davis. The Second Circuit has not answered this question — i.e., whether attempted Hobbs Act robbery “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property …


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Categories: 924(c), crime of violence, Hobbs Act

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