Published on: Wednesday, March 25, 2020

In the consolidated appeals of United States v. Eason, No. 16-15413, United States v. Styles, No. 16-17796, and United States v. Lawson, No. 18-12848, the Eleventh Circuit recently rejected the government’s multi-faceted challenges that Hobbs Act robbery qualifies as a crime of violence under the elements clause and enumerated offenses clause of the career offender guideline. As to the elements clause, the Eleventh Circuit held because a Hobbs Act robbery may be violated using, attempting to use, or threatening to use force against a person’s property, it could not satisfy the elements clause, which requires that force be directed at a person. As to the enumerated offenses clause, applying the categorical approach, the court held that Hobbs Act robbery did not qualify as a robbery or extortion under the career offender guideline because: 1) Hobbs Act robbery is broader than generic robbery because it can be violated with threats of force to property ; and 2) Hobbs Act robbery can be committed by a threat to property alone and the guidelines’ definition of extortion excludes fear or threats of harm to property.

The Eleventh Circuit’s decision is consistent with other circuits – had it ruled the other way, it would have created a circuit split. The Eleventh Circuit’s opinion can be found here. The Training Division provides sentencing resources on crimes of violence here.