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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chambers v. United States: Failure to Report to Jail is Not an ACCA Violent Felony

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court held that a failure to report to penal confinement does not qualify as a "violent felony" for purposes of triggering the mandatory 15-year sentence for felons unlawfully in possession of a firearm who have three prior convictions. Citing Begay v. U.S., the Court concluded that failure to report does not "involve conduct that presents a serous potential risk of physical injury to another" and therefore did not meet this part of the "violent felony" definition. The Court noted that the "inaction" involved in "failure to report" distinguished the crime from the "purposeful, violent," and ‘aggressive’ conduct" at issue in violent felonies. Further, the Court cited a recent Sentencing Commission’s Report which contained statistical data that indicated that failure to report does not involve a serious potential risk of physical injury.