December 8, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois. No. 3:16-cr-30079 - Staci M. Yandle,
Kanne and Rovner, Circuit Judges, and Durkin, District Judge.
convictions for crimes of violence subject a defendant to a
higher base offense level under the federal Sentencing
Guidelines. Because the district court below erroneously
concluded that the offense of second degree murder under
Illinois law is not a crime of violence, we reverse.
Teague pled guilty to possession of a weapon by a felon. In a
Presentence Investigation Report, the United States Probation
Department assigned a base offense level of 14. The
government objected, claiming the base level should be 20
because Teague had previously been convicted of a crime of
violence, namely second degree murder under Illinois law. At
the sentencing hearing, the district court overruled the
government's objection, concluding second degree murder
as defined in Illinois law is not a crime of violence because
it is not limited to intentional murder. Based on this
conclusion, the court found that the total offense level was
15, that Teague had a category II criminal history, and
therefore that the applicable Guideline range was 21-27
months' imprisonment. The court sentenced Teague to a
term of 21 months' imprisonment, a two-year term of
supervised release, a $150 fine, and a $100 special
assessment. The government appeals, challenging only the
district court's conclusion that second degree murder
under Illinois law is a crime of violence.
Sentencing Guidelines provide that if a defendant convicted
of being a felon in possession of a firearm committed any
part of the offense subsequent to sustaining a felony
conviction for a crime of violence, the base offense level
should be 20. U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(4)(A). The Guidelines
define "crime of violence" as:
"any offense under federal or state law punishable by
imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that (1) has as
an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of
physical force against the person of another, or (2) is
murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated
assault, a forcible sex offense, robbery, arson, extortion,
or the use or unlawful possession of a firearm described in
26 U.S.C. § 5845(a) or explosive material as defined in
18 U.S.C. § 841(c)."
U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2. The first clause is referred to as the
"elements clause" and the second is known as the
"enumerated offenses" clause. See Brown v.
Caraway, 719 F.3d 583, 589 (7th Cir. 2013).
appeal, the government contends that the Illinois offense of
second degree murder is a crime of violence under both
prongs, and that the district court's erroneous
interpretation of the Illinois statute led to an improperly
computed Guideline range. A sentence based on an improperly
computed Guideline range must be vacated and remanded unless
"the sentencing court firmly indicated that it would
impose the same sentence regardless of any sentencing
error." United States v. Zahurksy, 580 F.3d
515, 528 (7th Cir. 2009). The district court made no such
indication in this case. So Teague must be resentenced if his
second degree murder conviction qualifies as a crime of
violence. Our review of this issue is de novo.
United States v. Edwards, 836 F.3d 831, 834 (7th
To be a
crime of violence, the offense must have as an element the
intentional or knowing use, attempted use, or threatened use
of physical force against the person of another.
"'Elements' are the 'constituent parts'
of a crime's legal definition-the things the
'prosecution must prove to sustain a
conviction.'" Mathis v. United States, 136
S.Ct. 2243, 2248 (2016) (quoting Black's Law Dictionary
634 (10th ed. 2014)). To sustain a second degree murder
conviction under Illinois law, the prosecution ...