Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dixon: Florida Battery by Strangulation is a Crime of Violence under the Elements Clause

In United States v. Dixon, No. 17-10503 (Oct. 23, 2017) (Marcus, Jordan, Rosenbaum), the Court, without holding oral argument, held that Florida battery by strangulation under Fla. Stat. 784.041(2)(a) was a crime of violence under the elements clause.

This offense prohibits intentionally impeding the victim's normal breathing/blood circulation by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the victim's nose or mouth, and creating a risk of great bodily harm.  The Court found that, based on the plain language of the statute, this offense could not be committed without violent force -- that is, force capable of causing physical pain or injury.  The Court found that several non-violent hypothetical violations offered by the defendant -- including temporarily placing a pillow over a spouse's nose/mouth, removing a spouse's sleep apnea mask, or sitting on a spouse's chest -- were either "implausible" or would not actually violate the statute.  Other hypotheticals offered -- such as holding a spouse's head under water by applying pressure, and sitting in a spouse's chest and placing a hand over their mouth -- would require violent force.