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Frequently Asked Questions

How have other circuits interpreted whether an offense is a 'crime of violence'?

The interpretation of whether an offense is a crime of violence by other circuits has been based on a categorical approach as indicated by the legislative history to section 924(c). This approach focuses on the inherent nature of the offense and the potential risk of physical force involved in its commission. For instance, the First Circuit in United States v. Weston, 960 F.2d 212 (1st Cir.'92), held that threatening physical retaliation for information given to law enforcement officials is categorically a crime of violence. The court reasoned that this did not involve the weighing of testimony or the assessment of credibility, but rather the inherent nature of the offense itself. Similarly, the Fourth Circuit in United States v. Aragon, 983 F.2d 1306 (4th Cir.'93), held that attempting to help a prisoner escape is categorically a crime of violence. The court's reasoning was based on the statute's reference to an offense that 'by its nature' involves a substantial risk of force, directing the court to consider the generic nature of an offense.
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