Vehicular Flight Can Be a Violent Felony, Supreme Court Rules


Fleeing from the police in a car is a violent felony that can subject criminals to mandatory 15-year prison terms, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-to-3 decision. The decision was the court's fourth encounter since 2007 with a phrase in a federal law, the Armed Career Criminal Act, reports the New York Times. Under the law, convicted felons found with guns face a maximum sentence of 10 years. But those with three convictions for violent felonies are subject to a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence.

The law defines violent felonies as including burglary, arson and other “conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” The defendant in the case, Marcus Sykes, pleaded guilty to having a gun in violation of the federal law, and it was undisputed that he had twice committed violent felonies, by robbing a man of his wristwatch and a woman of her purse. The question in the case was whether a third conviction under Indiana law for fleeing from the police in a car was also a violent felony.

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