Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ramierez-Garcia: Taking Indecent Liberties with a minor is a "Crime of Violence"

In U.S. v. Ramirez-Garcia, No. 10-13279 (July 12, 2011), the Court held that a prior State conviction for taking indecent liberties with a minor qualified as a “crime of violence” for purposes of a 16-level sentence enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A).

The Guidelines provide that “sexual abuse of a minor” qualifies as a “crime of violence.” The Court noted that its precedent broadly defined “sexual abuse of a minor” as “a perpetrator’s physical or nonphysical misuse or maltreatment of a minor for a purpose associated with sexual gratification.” The Court rejected Ramirez-Garcia’s argument that it should revisit its definition of “sexual abuse of a minor” and adopt a new, narrower definition, based on a “generic” definition of the crime of “sexual abuse of a minor.” The Court found that coming up with such a generic definition would be difficult because of the variety of sex offense statutes in different States. Instead, the Court relied on the plain meaning of “sexual abuse of a minor,” and noted that the term encompassed conduct, like that covered by the State “taking indecent liberties” statute under which Ramirez-Garcia had been previously convicted.