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LEOCAL v. ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL, et al., 543 U.S. ---

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LEOCAL v. ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL, et al.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

No. 03-583.Argued October 12, 2004--Decided November 9, 2004

Petitioner, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, pleaded guilty to two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and causing serious bodily injury in an accident, in violation of Florida law. While he was serving his prison sentence, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) initiated removal proceedings pursuant to §237(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which permits deportation of an alien convicted of "an aggravated felony." INA §101(a)(43)(F) defines "aggravated felony" to include, inter alia, "a crime of violence [as defined in 18 U. S. C. §16] for which the term of imprisonment [is] at least one year." Title 18 U. S. C. §16(a), in turn, defines "crime of violence" as "an offense that has as an element the use ... of physical force against the person or property of another," and §16(b) defines it as "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." An Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ordered petitioner's deportation, and the Eleventh Circuit dismissed his petition for review, relying on its precedent that a conviction under Florida's DUI statute is a crime of violence under 18 U. S. C. §16.

Held: State DUI offenses such as Florida's, which either do not have a mens rea component or require only a showing of negligence in the operation of a vehicle, are not crimes of violence under 18 U. S. C. §16. Pp. 4-11.


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