Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rosales-Bruno: Florida "False Imprisonment" not a "crime of violence"

In U.S. v. Rosales-Bruno, No. 11-14293 (April 6, 2012), the Court held that the Florida offense of false imprisonment did not qualify as a "crime of violence" for purposes of the 16-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii).
The Court noted that "where the statutory definition of the prior offense encompasses both violent and nonviolent conduct, we look [to] whether the prior conviction falls under a particular statutory phrase that qualifies it as a ‘crime of violence.’" Looking to Florida caselaw interpreting the "false imprisonment" statute, the Court noted that the offense "can be committed without employing the type of ‘physical force’ contemplated in the Guidelines." Not all false imprisonments involve the use or threat of physical force.
Turning to the evidence regarding the offense, the Court rejected the government argument that it could rely on an arrest affidavit. The Court explained that this is not the type of document that can be relied on, citing Shepard v. U.S., 544 U.S. 12 (2005).
The Court also rejected the government’s argument that defense counsel had not objected to facts recited in a paragraph of the PSR with the requisite specificity. Though recognizing that "vague assertions of inaccuracies" are insufficient to preserve an objection, the Court found that the defense had adequately objected when the PSR Addendum stated: "The defendant also objects to paragraph 30 which contains the circumstances of the false imprisonment case."
Finally, the Court rejected the government’s argument that viewing all of the charges in the information together, one could draw an inference that the false imprisonment was violent. Citing Shepard, the Court noted the "dubious merit" of this approach, and rejected it because the other charges were non-violent.