Leocal v. Ashcroft

543 U.S. 1, 125 S. Ct. 377 (2004)

 

RULE:

18 U.S.C.S. § 16(b) sweeps more broadly than 18 U.S.C.S. § 16(a), defining a crime of violence as including any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense. It covers offenses that naturally involve a person acting in disregard of the risk that physical force might be used against another in committing the offense. A burglary would be covered under 18 U.S.C.S. § 16(b) not because the offense can be committed in a generally reckless way or because someone may be injured, but because burglary, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that the burglar will use force against a victim in completing the crime.

FACTS:

Petitioner Leocal, a permanent resident alien, sued respondent United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking review of a deportation order following his conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing serious bodily injury in an accident, in violation of Florida law. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the petition. Certiorari was granted to determine whether state DUI offenses similar to Fla. Stat. ch. 316.193(3)(c)(2), which either did not have a mens rea component or required only a showing of negligence in the operation of a vehicle, qualified as a crime of violence under 8 U.S.C.S. § 1101(a)(43) and 18 U.S.C.S. § 16

ISSUE:

Should petitioner be deported after being convicted of DUI causing serious bodily injury even if no intent to harm was proven?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Certiorari was granted to determine whether state DUI offenses similar to Fla. Stat. ch. 316.193(3)(c)(2), which either did not have a mens rea component or required only a showing of negligence in the operation of a vehicle, qualified as a crime of violence under 8 U.S.C.S. § 1101(a)(43) and 18 U.S.C.S. § 16. The Leocal's DUI offense was not a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C.S. § 16(a) as the statute's key phrase, the use of physical force against the person or property of another, suggested a higher degree of intent than negligent or merely accidental conduct. The DUI conviction was not a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C.S. § 16(b) for similar reasons; it required a higher mens rea than the merely accidental or negligent conduct involved in a DUI offense. The ordinary meaning of the term "crime of violence," combined with 18 U.S.C.S. § 16's emphasis on the use of physical force against another person (or the risk of having to use such force in committing a crime), suggested a category of violent, active crimes that did not include DUI offenses. Thus, 18 U.S.C.S. § 16 could not be read to include the Leocal's conviction for DUI causing serious bodily injury under Florida law.

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