Breaking News: Supreme Court Strikes Down “Crime of Violence” Definition as Vague


In the much-anticipated Sessions v. Dimaya case, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, invalidated a provision of federal law requiring the deportation of immigrants convicted of a “crime of violence” holding that it is too vague to enforce. This decision will limit the mandatory deportation of individuals convicted of certain crimes.

This ruling applies to a category of crimes that carry a prison term of more than a year, but do not easily fit in an extensive list of “aggravated felonies” that could get any noncitizen deported – lawful permanent residents included. The length of time they have lived in the U.S. is inconsequential.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defined a “crime of violence” as an offense “that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in course of committing the offense.” This loosely-defined term could be used to include burglary (whether or not it actually included violence) as well as possession of certain “dangerous weapons,” even if they are kept under lock and key and do not function.

Speaking regarding the impact of the ruling, Dimaya’s attorney, E. Joshua Rosenkranz states, “This decision is of enormous consequence, striking down a flawed law that applies in a vast range of criminal and immigration cases and which has resulted in many thousands of immigrants being deported for decades in violation of their due process rights,” said E. Joshua Rosenkranz, a lawyer for the immigrant at the center of the case.

If you have a criminal conviction on your record and want to find out more about the way this decision will affect your case, please contact us on our website or by phone at (716) 854-7525. This ruling has the potential to work in your favor.