Monday, May 20, 2019

Hobbs Act Robbery is Crime of Violence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), but Not Crime of Violence under the Career-Offender Guideline U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2


In United States v. Raul Rodriguez, Nos. 18-1606 and 18-1664 (3d Cir., May 1, 2019), Defendant pled guilty one count each of Hobbs Act robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a) and 924(c). The district court ruled that the robbery was a crime of violence under § 924(c), but it was not a crime of violence under the career-offender guideline, U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Citing United States v. Robinson, 844 F.3d 137 (3d Cir. 2016), the court reiterated that, when a firearm is brandished during a Hobbs Act robbery, the robbery constitutes a crime of violence under the elements clause of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(A). However, the court ruled that Hobbs Act robbery is not a crime of violence under the career-offender guideline. The Third Circuit initially concluded that Hobbs Act robbery did not qualify as a crime of violence under the elements clause of § 4B1.2(a)(1) because the statutory definition of the offense did not contain the requisite elements. The Third Circuit further determined that Hobbs Act robbery did not qualify as a crime of violence under the enumerated-offense clause of § 4B1.2(a)(2) because its statutory definition was broader than the two most closely-related enumerated offenses, namely robbery and extortion. Specifically, the court determined that the statutory definition of Hobbs Act robbery was broader than generic robbery and extortion as narrowly defined in the guidelines because the latter prohibit crimes involving force against persons, while Hobbs Act robbery prohibited crimes involving force against persons or property.

Note that this decision is unpublished, but its reasoning is persuasive and the briefing in the case may be consulted when litigating this issue before future panels of the Court of Appeals.



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