Litigating Challenges to the Amended Definition of ‘Crime of Violence’ in § 4B1.2(a)

Effective Aug. 1, 2016, the Sentencing Commission deleted the residual clause from U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2) and made other changes to the definition of “crime of violence.” The Commission said that its amendments would make the guideline consistent with Johnson v. United States (2015). The amendments will be beneficial for some defendants and detrimental to others. This article discusses when and how to use, challenge, or avoid the new definition of “crime of violence” in sentencings and resentencings. The authors discuss when to insist on using the pre-amendment version of the guideline as altered by Johnson and, alternatively, how to challenge the amended version to a client’s advantage.