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United States v. Williams

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

April 20, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TRAYON L. WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (D.C. No. 6:15-CR-10181-EFM-1)

          Daniel T. Hansmeier, Appellate Chief (Melody Brannon, Federal Public Defender, Kirk C. Redmond, First Assistant Federal Public Defender, with him on the briefs), Kansas Federal Public Defender Office, Topeka, Kansas, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Jared Maag, Assistant United States Attorney (Thomas E. Beall, United States Attorney, James A. Brown, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), Topeka, Kansas, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before BRISCOE, KELLY, and BACHARACH, Circuit Judges.

          BACHARACH, Circuit Judge.

         Mr. Trayon Williams was convicted of possessing a firearm after a felony conviction. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The conviction led the district court to consider the sentence, beginning (as required) with the sentencing guidelines. See Peugh v. United States, 569 U.S. 530, 541 (2013). To apply the guidelines, the district court classified Mr. Williams's prior conviction for aggravated battery under Kansas law as a crime of violence. This classification triggered enhancement of the offense level. U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 2K2.1(a)(4)(A).

         Mr. Williams challenges the enhancement on the ground that his prior conviction was not for a crime of violence. Mr. Williams is mistaken. In Kansas, aggravated battery is a crime of violence because the crime involves general criminal intent, requiring the knowing use of force. Thus, we affirm.

         I. Mr. Williams's sentence level was enhanced under § 2K2.1.

         Following a guilty plea, a probation officer prepared a presentence investigation report for Mr. Williams. The probation officer did not treat aggravated battery as a crime of violence under § 2K2.1 of the sentencing guidelines. As a result, the probation officer calculated the guideline range at 27 to 33 months' imprisonment.

         The government objected, arguing that the Kansas crime of aggravated battery constituted a crime of violence. The district court sustained the objection and set the guideline range at 46 to 57 months.[1] Mr. Williams appeals the enhancement under § 2K2.1.

         II. We must determine whether aggravated battery in Kansas constitutes a crime of violence.

         Section 2K2.1 requires enhancement of the offense level when the defendant has a prior conviction for a "crime of violence." The definition of "crime of violence" appears in § 4B1.2. U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 2K2.1, cmt. n.1. There a "crime of violence" is defined as a felony that "has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another." Id. § 4B1.2(a)(1). Focusing on this definition, Mr. Williams argues that his conviction does not constitute a crime of violence.

         To address this argument, we engage in de novo review. See United States v. Wray, 776 F.3d 1182, 1184 (10th Cir. 2015). This review requires us to compare the statutory elements to the guidelines' definition of a "crime of violence." See Mathis v. United States, U.S., 136 S.Ct. 2243, 2248 (2016). We must "look at (and not beyond) the statute of conviction in order to identify the elements of the offense." United States v. Zuniga-Soto, 527 F.3d 1110, 1120 (10th Cir. 2008) (emphasis in original).

         Mr. Williams was convicted of "knowingly causing bodily harm to another person with a deadly weapon, or in any manner whereby great bodily harm, disfigurement, or death can be inflicted." Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5413(b)(1)(B).[2] The resulting issue is whether this crime constitutes a crime of violence.[3] Id. The district court answered "yes."

         Mr. Williams argues that

. aggravated battery in Kansas cannot constitute a crime of violence because the crime can be committed recklessly and unintentionally and
. causing bodily harm does not have "as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another." U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 4B1.2(a)(1).

         Both arguments fail.

         III. The mens rea for aggravated battery in Kansas suffices for a crime of violence.

         Mr. Williams argues that the mens rea requirement for aggravated battery does not suffice for a crime of violence. For this argument, Mr. Williams asserts that his statute of conviction encompasses conduct that is ...


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