Supreme Court Discusses What Constitutes a Crime of Violence

If a defendant is convicted of a federal crime, the courts will consider numerous factors in determining an appropriate sentence. Among other things, the courts will assess whether the defendant brandished a firearm during the commission of the unlawful acts and whether the offenses in question constitute crimes of violence as defined by federal law. The issue of what crimes are deemed violent is often contemplated by the federal courts. Recently, the United States Supreme Court definitively ruled that an attempted Hobbs Act robbery does not fall under the definition. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater violent crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and a co-conspirator attempted to rob an individual selling drug. The individual was shot during the attempted robbery. The defendant was subsequently charged with numerous crimes, including attempted Hobbs Act robbery and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery. His indictment also alleged that both offenses were predicate crimes of violence. The defendant entered a guilty plea to use a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery.

It is reported that the prosecution agreed to dismiss the remaining charges. The defendant was ultimately convicted of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. He sought habeas review, asking the Court to vacate his conviction and remand the matter for resentencing on the grounds that the predicate offenses were not, in fact crimes of violence. The appellate court granted the appeal, and the government appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

What Constitutes a Crime of Violence

On appeal, the Court addressed the discrete question of whether attempted Hobbs Act robbery is considered a crime of violence under federal law. The Court ultimately determined that it was not and affirmed the lower court ruling. The Court explained that to convict a person of Hobbs Act robbery, the government needs to demonstrate that the defendant had an intention to take someone else’s property via threat or force and a substantial step towards meeting that goal.

As the Court noted, however, the elements of attempted Hobbs Act robbery do not always require the attempted use, threatened use, or use of physical force. As such, it does not qualify as a crime of violence under the applicable statute, as a predicate for a felony conviction and imposing enhanced sentencing for using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Talk to a Capable Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Charges

Violent crimes typically carry significant penalties, especially if they involve the use of firearms. If you are accused of a violent crime, it is critical to mount a compelling defense, and you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible to determine your options. The capable  Clearwater attorneys of Hanlon Law can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a conference.

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