Updates in Federal Criminal Law
United States v. Taylor No. 20–1459, decided June 21, 2022.
In June 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States decided a federal criminal case that is a huge victory for many federal defendants, both those who are already convicted and those who are about to be charged. In Taylor the Court held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery (18 USC§ 1951) is not a crime of violence for purposes of 18 USC § 924 (c). 18 U. S. C. §924(c) punishes anyone who “uses or carries a firearm” “during and in relation to any crime of violence,” or who possesses a firearm “in furtherance of any such crime.” The penalty is in addition to and made consecutive to any penalty received for the underlying offense. The penalties for 924 (c) convictions range from 5 years (for straight possession of a firearm) to 10 years (for discharging the firearm). Prior to the Taylor decision, federal defendants could be charged with attempted Hobbs Act robbery, and the consecutive penalty for possessing, brandishing or discharging a firearm in relation to an attempted Hobbs Act robbery. In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court held that because attempted Hobbs Act robbery could be committed without proof that the defendant used, attempted to use, or threatened to use force, (as the elements clause of 924(c )(1)(A) requires), that it could not be found to be crime of violence. This holding could save thousands of defendants the penalty of the additional consecutive years in prison that is attenuate to a 924(c) charge. This is a huge win for federal criminal defendants and its holding could be extended and argued to apply to many other federal “attempt” crimes such as attempted bank robbery and attempted kidnapping.
To discuss the federal criminal defense update or criminal law more generally, reach out to New Jersey and New York criminal defense lawyer Lorraine Gauli-Rufo at 973-239-4300 or LGR LAW for a consultation today. For more information about the firm, please visit LGR LAW’s website.