United States v. Simms, No. 15-4640 (4th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Brandishing a firearm in connection with a "crime of violence," as defined in 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B), is unconstitutionally vague. The Fourth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction under section 924(c)(3) and held that neither the statutory language nor controlling precedent offered any support for the Government's proposed reinterpretation of "crime of violence." In this case, the text, structure, and context of section 924(c)(3)(B) clearly mandated use of the ordinary-case categorical approach, as do all relevant precedents. The court held that section 924(c)(3)(B) effectively required judges to define the scope of criminal liability, and it directed them to do so using an unmoored, subjective abstraction that deprived the public of fair notice.