Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Walk-Away from Work Release is "Crime of Violence" Under ACCA
US v. Mathias: Mathias was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 180 months as an armed career criminal under 18 USC 924(e) because he had three prior convictions for "violent felonies." At sentencing, Mathias argued that one of his prior convictions, a Virginia conviction for "escape without force or violence" did not qualify as a "violent felony." The district court disagreed. On appeal, Mathias raises the same argument, which the Fourth also rejects. Restating prior Circuit law from the career offender context, the court explains that any escape offense - including one like Mathias's that was simply walking away from a work release center - pose a "serious potential risk of physical injury to another." The court rejected Mathias's argument that the fact that Virginia specifically provides for non-violent escape convictions made any difference.