Federal 'Crime of Violence' Definition: Overview and Judicial Developments [Updated June 8, 2018]   [open pdf - 952KB]

"In an effort to deter violent crime, and to limit the broad discretion accorded to federal judges with respect to prison sentencing, Congress in 1984 passed legislation that revised the federal criminal code. The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (CCCA) aimed to substantially reform and improve federal criminal laws, and 'to restore a proper balance between the forces of law and the forces of lawlessness.' To that end, the CCCA adopted new bail procedures, imposed mandatory minimum sentences for certain criminal offenses, increased the penalties for drug offenses and violent crimes, and created new federal criminal offenses. The term 'crime of violence' was used in various provisions of the CCCA that defined the elements of certain newly established criminal offenses, set forth conditions for bail, and provided for enhanced prison sentences when certain aggravating factors were met. Since the CCCA's enactment, several federal laws have incorporated the act's 'crime of violence' definition. For example, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a non-U.S. national who commits a 'crime of violence' for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year may face significant immigration consequences, including being subject to removal from the country and thereafter rendered generally ineligible for readmission. As codified in 18 U.S.C. § 16, the CCCA contains a two-pronged definition of a crime of violence. Specifically, the term includes both (1) 'an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another'; and (2) '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 any offense.'"

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R45220
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
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