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crime of violence

Violent Crime to be Targeted in Criminal Justice Overhaul

By Peek & Toland on October 3, 2017

Measures to tackle violent crime are being discussed both at a federal and a state level as homicides continue to rise.

At a national level, Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to focus more efforts on tackling violent crime earlier this year.

In April, Sessions spoke about his support of the “broken windows” philosophy of police. Under this model, police officers rigorously enforce the laws on even minor violations in the hope of stamping out more serious problems. Sessions wants a return to what he termed a “lawful system of immigration” and the breaking up cartels and gangs in America’s cities.

However, in a speech and question-and-answer session at the Ethics and Compliance Initiative’s annual conference, he disputed recent speculation that the Justice Department may be easier on white-collar crime than its predecessor.

Measures to reduce violent crime

Feds target the reduction in violent crime

While acknowledging uncertainty when administrations change, he pledged to continue to enforce laws that protect American consumers and ensure that honest businesses are not disadvantaged by dishonest ones reported the Washington Post.

Many factors have led to an upsurge in violent crime in recent years. These include a rise in cheap heroin which is flooding the market, we noted last year.

Violent Crime and Reducing the Jail Population

However, in many states the need to tackle violent crime is being balanced with reform policies intended to reduce the financial burden of the jail population.

Recently in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards reached common ground with the state’s sheriffs and district attorneys in bid to reduce the highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate and slash millions of dollars each year.

A package of bills intended to cut the prison population was backed by a Senate judiciary committee. However, the proposals were amended to head off opposition from district attorneys and sheriffs who would not cede ground on reducing the penalties for violent crimes.

But before they passed unopposed to the Senate floor, the proposals were heavily amended to reduce opposition from sheriffs and district attorneys, who refuse to cede much ground on lessening the punishments for violent crimes.

In Texas, a new bill to make violent crimes against first responders hate crimes means stiffer sentences for theses offences, reported Fox News.

If you have been charged with a violent crime in Texas, you will likely to facing a felony and a tough sentence. Find out about the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor here. Please call our Austin criminal defense team for help at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Court to Decide if “Crime of Violence” is Too Vague in Deportation Cases

By Peek & Toland on December 7, 2016

When an undocumented immigrant commits a crime of violence he or she faces deportation and loses possible recourse to fight it such as cancellation of removal or withholding of removal.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court is to look at the “crime of violence” definition amid concerns it’s an unconstitutionally vague term.

Recently, The U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari in the case of Lynch v. Dimaya. The justices will decide whether part of the definition of “crime of violence” is too vague and possibly unconstitutional following a hearing by the Ninth Circuit Court. The Ninth Circuit stated the deportation standard needs to be very clear.

Crime of violence definition to be ruled on by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will look at the “crime of violence” definition

The justices pointed to the harsh consequences of deportation. They noted the relief that’s available in other criminal cases isn’t available in deportation cases.

The “crime of violence” definition is important in the context of the Immigration and Nationality Act. When an undocumented immigrant is found to be guilty of an “aggravated felony” he or she is deportable. The immigrant is deemed to be ineligible for relief from deportation. This relief usually takes the form of.

  1. 1 Withholding of removal – a special order issued by an immigration judge for an immigrant who would face a 50 percent or higher chance of persecution on return to their home country.
  2. Cancellation of removal for resident aliens who are convicted of certain offenses.

At Peek & Toland we help many undocumented immigrants in cancellation of removal proceedings in Texas. In some cases, these immigrants have been convicted of crimes.

Aggravated felonies include convictions for “a crime of violence.” They are defined as offenses which carry a term of at least one year in prison.

Defining a Crime of Violence

The Immigration and Nationality Act defines a crime of violence as follows.

“An offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or (b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.”

It’s not as straightforward as it seems. The nation’s highest court has stated the analysis of offenses to ascertain if they meet a standard should entail the “categorical” method. This means the judge considers the category of crime and decides whether it fits into the standard for a crime of violence.

The case of Lynch v. Dimaya concerned burglary. While a resident may face violence during burglary if the burglar is confronted, it’s a gray area. The immigration judge decided it was a crime of violence and the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and said the crime of violence definition was unconstitutionally vague and could lead to inconsistencies.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now look at this definition further. If the crime of violence phrase is deemed too vague by the justices, it may end up in the hands of Congress to work out a more precise definition.

If you are in need of cancellation of removal or withholding of removal our Austin family immigration lawyers can help. Contact us here for a consultation.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Criminal Defense

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