Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Carjacking Is Crime of Violence

US v. Evans: Evans was a passenger in a car driven by his friend, Duke. Duke pulled into a parking lot where Evans was supposed to meet his cousin. Instead, Evans pulled out a gun, shot Duke twice (once in each leg), and stole his car. For his trouble, Evans was charged with carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury and using a firearm in during that crime of violence, in addition to two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, each with a matching use of a firearm charge. Evans moved to dismiss the firearm charges, arguing that neither carjacking nor Hobbs Act robbery were crimes of violence. The district court denied the motion and Evans pleaded guilty to one Hobbs Act robbery, carjacking, and discharging a firearm during the carjacking. He was sentenced to a total of 216 months in prison.

Evans appealed, renewing his argument that carjacking was not a crime of violence. The Fourth Circuit disagreed and affirmed his conviction. At the outset, the court noted that while Evans was convicted under the subsection of carjacking that required causing bodily injury it "consider[ed] on appeal the more general offense," without regard to injury. As a result, the analysis focused on whether the offense categorically involves the use of violent force as defined in the Supreme Court's 2010 Johnson decision. Evans argued that carjacking committed via "intimidation" does not meet that standard. The court found that the issue had been resolved in McNeal, in which the Fourth Circuit held that federal bank robbery was a crime of violence. It can also be committed via intimidation and there was no reason to read the term differently in the carjacking statute.

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