Michigan Court Discusses Crimes of Violence

Under federal law, crimes of violence are punished more harshly than other offenses. While the definition of a crime of violence is established by statute, disputes nonetheless continue regarding whether certain offenses fall under the definition. In a recent ruling, a Michigan court discussed what constitutes a crime of violence in a matter in which the defendant appealed his sentence following his conviction for carrying a firearm or abetting and aiding using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. If you are accused of a criminal offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted  Michigan criminal defense attorney regarding your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with numerous federal crimes, including carrying a firearm or aiding and abetting using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. A jury convicted him, and he was sentenced to serve sixty consecutive months in prison for the firearm offense. He filed a motion to vacate his sentence, arguing that abetting and aiding attempted robbery, the underlying crime of violence, was not a crime of violence as defined by the applicable statute. The trial court denied his motion, and he appealed.

Crimes of Violence Under Federal Law

An appellate court will review the question of whether an offense is considered a crime of violence de novo. In doing so, they must apply the categorical approach as dictated by the elements clause of the relevant statute. In other words, they must assess the elements of the alleged offense rather than the particular facts out of which the defendant’s conviction arose.

In the subject case, the appellate court ultimately determined that, contrary to the defendant’s assertion, aiding and abetting an attempted robbery was categorically a crime of violence as defined by the statutory meaning of the phrase under the elements clause. The court elaborated that a conviction for attempted robbery required an attempted taking from another individual using violence and force or intimidation.

Further, because intimidation refers to the threat to use physical force, and even an attempt to take something from another person via force, violence, or intimidation constitutes an act of violence under the applicable law, aiding and abetting attempted robbery was a crime of violence. Based on the foregoing, the court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to vacate his sentence.

Meet with an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

People charged with crimes often fear that the odds are stacked against them, but there are numerous steps between an arrest and conviction and many criminal defendants are able to obtain not guilty verdicts. If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a capable Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can advise you of your options and help you to seek a favorable outcome. You can contact Mr. Bernstein via the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a consultation.


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