The Supreme Court is considering whether a defendant’s failure to report for confinement after conviction constitutes a “violent crime” under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, reports Law.com. Yesterday, the justices heard arguments on whether failure to report is an aggressive or a passive act. Deondery Chambers, who pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, had prior convictions for drug distribution and for robbery and battery. He challenged whether his conviction under an Illinois escape law for failure to report for confinement was a violent felony that allowed increasing his sentence under the law.
Chambers’ attorney, Robert Hochman, told the justices the government had made a “critical error” in “equating breakout, prison escape, with failure to report. They are entirely different.” Justice Department attorney Matthew Roberts argued that failure to report carries the risk of violent confrontation between the defendant and police officers who may come to bring the defendant into custody. Justice David Souter said “the crime that we are concerned with here is still essentially a passive crime. [The defendant] just doesn’t show up.” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. asked whether there were any “statistics about how serious the police are” about picking up those who fail to report for confinement.