Defining ‘violent felony’ down

by wfgodbold

At the Supreme Court.

Yes, running from the cops is now a violent felony. Does this mean that they’ll send SWAT teams on chases? Or to kick in the doors of people who evade capture?

The NYT says, “The law defines violent felonies as including burglary, arson and other ‘conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.'”

That seems vague and overbroad, ripe for exploitation by that bane of the rule of law, prosecutorial discretion.

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2 Comments to “Defining ‘violent felony’ down”

  1. I don’t know about that. I have advocated for years that anyone who leads police in a high speed chase should be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. I believe that high speed chases should be dealt with by deadly force, immediately.

    I would happily pay taxes to support a cement warhead Hellfire missile hanging off the skid of a police helicopter. The proceedure is, if a high speed chase occurs, the police may apply to a judge for permission to use deadly force to end that chase. The judge issues the warrant, and the missile, with a cement rather than high explosive warhead, gets launched at the car. I would prefer that they aim at the engine compartment, but if Mr. Vehicular Homicide ends up dead, too bad for him.

    I wouldn’t accept it without judicial approval, though. Judges would be able to see the chase on TV anyway, and decide if the chase warrants deadly force.

    • I agree, high speed chases are dangerous; but Kagan and Ginsberg pointed out that Indiana law has separate offenses for flight that creates a risk of injury, causes serious injury, or causes death.

      If this wasn’t one of those cases, then I don’t see how it could count as a violent felony.

      I do think Scalia is right, though. The wording is vague. Second-hand smoke causes cancer; does that mean that smokers are all violent felons? After all, it “involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”

      If someone recklessly flees from the police, then charge them with appropriate crimes (vehicular assault, reckless endangerment, vehicular homicide, whatever). But I don’t think that fleeing from the police per se should be considered a violent felony.

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