Leocal v. Ashcroft

Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1 (2004), held that aliens may not be deported after being convicted of DUI if the DUI statute that defines the offense does not contain a mens rea element or otherwise allows a conviction for merely negligent conduct.

Leocal v. Ashcroft
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued October 12, 2004
Decided November 9, 2004
Full case nameJosue Leocal v. John D. Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States
Citations543 U.S. 1 (more)
125 S. Ct. 377; 160 L. Ed. 2d 271; 73 U.S.L.W. 4001
Case history
PriorDeportation order affirmed by the Board of Immigration Appeals; petition for review in the Eleventh Circuit denied; cert. granted, 540 U.S. 1176 (2004).
DUI crimes that have either no mens rea element or require merely negligence for a conviction are not "crimes of violence" that subject aliens to deportation.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Case opinion
MajorityRehnquist, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
8 U.S.C. § 1227; 18 U.S.C. § 16


Josue Leocal is a citizen of Haiti who has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1987. In 2000, he was convicted in Florida of driving under the influence (DUI). Proceedings were then instituted to deport Leocal, and an immigration judge concluded that Leocal's DUI conviction constituted a "crime of violence" and hence an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Because of his conviction for an aggravated felony, Leocal was ordered deported in October 2001. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed this decision, and Leocal sought review in the Eleventh Circuit. In an unpublished opinion, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that the DUI conviction was an "aggravated felony," and hence it had no jurisdiction to review the lawfulness of the deportation order. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case.

Opinion of the Court

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, any alien convicted of an aggravated felony is deportable and may be deported upon an order of the Attorney General. An "aggravated felony" includes any crime classified under federal law as a "crime of violence." And a "crime of violence," in turn, is any crime that

(a) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or

(b) 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 the course of committing the offense.

In order to determine whether Leocal's DUI conviction qualified as a "crime of violence," the Court examined the elements of the statutory definition of the crime rather than the particular facts.

Under Florida law, it is a third-degree felony for any person to operate a vehicle under the influence and, "by reason of such operation, caus[e] ... [s]erious bodily injury to another." This statute has no mens rea element—it does not require the defendant to have any particular level of intent to commit the crime. In Florida, DUI does not entail the attempted or threatened use of physical force; if DUI is to qualify as a crime of violence, it must so qualify because it involves the use of physical force. The "use" of physical force "most naturally suggests a higher degree of intent than negligent or merely accidental conduct." Likewise, DUI does not entail a "substantial risk" that physical force will be used. Furthermore, the fact that in another subsection of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress expressly distinguished between DUI crimes and "crimes of violence" bolstered the Court's conclusion that Florida's DUI statute was not a "crime of violence" because it did not require proof of any particular mental state, and thus criminalized merely negligent conduct.

See also

External links

2004 term opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States

The 2004 term of the Supreme Court of the United States began October 4, 2004 and concluded October 3, 2005. The table illustrates which opinion was filed by each justice in each case and which justices joined each opinion.

Aggravated felony

The term aggravated felony was created by the United States Congress as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to define a special category of criminal offenses. The INA says that certain aliens "convicted of an aggravated felony shall be considered to have been convicted of a particularly serious crime." Every "legal immigrant," including a "national but not a citizen of the United States," who has been convicted of any aggravated felony is ineligible for citizenship of the United States, and other than a refugee, every alien who has been convicted of any aggravated felony is ineligible to receive a visa or be admitted to the United States, if his or her "term of imprisonment was completed within the previous 15 years."When the aggravated felony was introduced in 1988, it encompassed only murder and felony trafficking in drugs and/or firearms (but not long shotguns, long rifles, and/or ammunition of such legal weapons). Every aggravated felony conviction was manifestly a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. The 1996 enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) tremendously expanded the aggravated felony definition by adding a great many more criminal convictions. All the aggravated felonies are enumerated in the chart at the very bottom.

DWI court

DWI courts (sometimes called DUI courts) are a form of court that exists in some United States legal jurisdictions, that use substance-abuse interventions and treatment with defendants who plead guilty of driving while intoxicated or impaired. DUI courts may focus on repeat offenders and drivers with very high levels of blood alcohol at the time of the offense. As of December, 2011, there were approximately 192 designated DUI courts in the United States, and approximately 406 drug courts that also accept DUI offenders.

List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 543

This is a list of all the United States Supreme Court cases from volume 543 of the United States Reports:

Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1 (2004)

Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. James N. Kirby, Pty Ltd., 543 U.S. 14 (2004)

Smith v. Texas, 543 U.S. 37 (2004) (per curiam)

Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh, 543 U.S. 50 (2004)

San Diego v. Roe, 543 U.S. 77 (2004) (per curiam)

Kansas v. Colorado, 543 U.S. 86 (2004)

KP Permanent Make-Up, Inc. v. Lasting Impression I, Inc., 543 U.S. 111 (2004)

Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 125 (2004)

Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146 (2004)

Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Aviall Services, Inc., 543 U.S. 157 (2004)

Florida v. Nixon, 543 U.S. 175 (2004)

Brosseau v. Haugen, 543 U.S. 194 (2004) (per curiam)

Whitfield v. United States, 543 U.S. 209 (2005)

United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005)

Jama v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 543 U.S. 335 (2005)

Clark v. Martinez, 543 U.S. 371 (2005)

Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (2005)

Commissioner v. Banks, 543 U.S. 426 (2005)

Howell v. Mississippi, 543 U.S. 440 (2005) (per curiam)

Bell v. Cone, 543 U.S. 447 (2005) (per curiam)

Smith v. Massachusetts, 543 U.S. 462 (2005)

Stewart v. Dutra Constr. Co., 543 U.S. 481 (2005)

Johnson v. California, 543 U.S. 499 (2005)

Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)

Cherokee Nation of Okla. v. Leavitt, 543 U.S. 631 (2005)

IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 543 U.S. 1144 (2005) (cert. granted)

List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Rehnquist Court

This is a partial chronological list of cases decided by the United States Supreme Court during the Rehnquist Court, the tenure of Chief Justice William Rehnquist from September 26, 1986 through September 3, 2005. The cases are listed chronologically based on the date that the Supreme Court decided the case.

List of United States Supreme Court immigration case law

This is a list of Supreme Court of the United States cases in the area of immigration law and naturalization law.

This list is a list solely of United States Supreme Court decisions about applying immigration and naturalization law. Not all Supreme Court decisions are ultimately influential and, as in other fields, not all important decisions are made at the Supreme Court level. Many federal courts issue rulings that are significant or come to be influential, but those are outside the scope of this list.

18th CenturyTalbot v. Janson, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 133 (1795)

19th CenturyPassenger Cases (Smith v. Turner; Norris v. Boston), 48 U.S. (7 How.) 283 (1849)

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857)

Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36 (1873) (1873)

Chy Lung v. Freeman, 92 U.S. 275 (1876) - The power to set rules around immigration and foreign relations rests with the federal government rather than with state governments.

Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884) - Court held that even though Elk was born in the United States, he was not a citizen because he owed allegiance to his tribe when he was born rather than to the U.S. and therefore was not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States when he was born.

Head Money Cases (aka Edye v. Robertson), 112 U.S. 580 (1884)

Cheong Ah Moy v. United States, 113 U.S. 216 (1885)

Chae Chan Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581 (1889)

Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, 142 U.S. 651 (1892)

Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892)

Lau Ow Bew v. United States, 144 U.S. 47 (1892)

Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698 (1893)

Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896)

United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898)

20th CenturyYamataya v. Fisher, 189 U.S. 86 (1903) (aka the "Japanese Immigrant Case")

Cross v. United States, 242 U.S. 4 (1916)

Takao Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178 (1922)

Yamashita v. Hinkle, 260 U.S. 199 (1922)

United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923)

Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197 (1923)Porterfield v. Webb, 263 U.S. 225 (1923)

Webb v. O'Brien, 263 U.S. 313 (1923) - Overturning a lower court decision, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on cropping contracts, which technically dealt with labor rather than land and were used by many Issei to avoid the restrictions of California's alien land act.

Chung Fook v. White, 264 U.S. 443 (1924)

United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929) - Denied an applicant entry to the United States because of her pacifist stance

Perkins v. Elg, 307 U.S. 325 (1939)

Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52 (1941)

Girouard v. United States, 328 U.S. 61 (1946) - Overturned US v. Schwimmer (1929)

Oyama v. State of California, 332 U.S. 633 (1948)

Takahashi v. Fish and Game Comm'n, 334 U.S. 410 (1948)Kawakita v. United States, 343 U.S. 717 (1952)

Mandoli v. Acheson, 344 U.S. 133 (1952)

Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, 344 U.S. 590 (1953)

Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86 (1958) ( revocation of citizenship as a punishment for desertion was struck down)

Nishikawa v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 129 (1958)

Perez v. Brownell, 356 U.S. 44 (1958) - affirmed the provision revoking the citizenship of any American who had voted in an election in a foreign country, as a legitimate exercise (under the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause) of Congress' authority to regulate foreign affairs and avoid potentially embarrassing diplomatic situations

Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603 (1960)

Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963) The Court struck down a law revoking citizenship for remaining outside the United States in order to avoid conscription into the armed forces

Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964) - the Court invalidated a provision revoking the citizenship of naturalized citizens who returned to live permanently in their countries of origin

Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967)

Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815 (1971)

Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753 (1972)

Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co., 414 U.S. 86 (1973)

United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873 (1975)

De Canas v. Bica, 424 U. S. 351 (1976) - employment regulation, even of aliens unlawfully present in the country, is an area of traditional state concern; arguably overruled by Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387 (2012)

Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252 (1980)

Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490 (1981)* Haig v. Agee, 453 U.S. 280 (1981)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Stevic, 467 U.S. 407 (1984)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421 (1987)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Abudu, 485 U.S. 94 (1988)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478 (1992)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Doherty, 502 U.S. 314 (1992)

Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (1993)

Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, 509 U.S. 155 (1993)

Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420 (1998) - upheld the validity of laws relating to U.S. citizenship at birth for children born outside the United States, out of wedlock, to an American parent.

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Aguirre-Aguirre, 526 U.S. 415 (1999)

21st CenturyNguyen v. INS, 533 U.S. 53 (2001)

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289 (2001)

Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001)

Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, 535 U.S. 137 (2002)

Leocal v. Ashcroft, 543 U.S. 1 (2004)

Clark v. Martinez, 543 U.S. 371 (2005)

Fernandez-Vargas v. Gonzales, 548 U.S. 30 (2006)

Dada v. Mukasey, 554 U.S. 1 (2008)

Negusie v. Holder, 555 U.S. 511 (2009)

Padilla v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010)

Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, 563 U.S. 582 (2011)

Kawashima v. Holder, 565 U.S. 478 (2012)

Vartelas v. Holder, 566 U.S. 257 (2012)

Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387 (2012)

Reyes Mata v. Lynch, 576 U.S. ___ (2015)

United States v. Texas, 579 U.S. ___ (2016)

Molina-Martinez v. United States, 578 U.S. ___ (2016)

Luna Torres v. Lynch, 578 U.S. ___ (2016)

Maslenjak v. United States, 582 U.S. ___ (2017)

Jennings v. Rodriguez, 583 U.S. ___ (2018)

Sessions v. Dimaya, 584 U.S. ___ (2018)

Strict liability (criminal)

In criminal law, strict liability is liability for which mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind") does not have to be proven in relation to one or more elements comprising the actus reus (Latin for "guilty act") although intention, recklessness or knowledge may be required in relation to other elements of the offense. The liability is said to be strict because defendants will be convicted even though they were genuinely ignorant of one or more factors that made their acts or omissions criminal. The defendants may therefore not be culpable in any real way, i.e. there is not even criminal negligence, the least blameworthy level of mens rea.

Strict liability laws were created in the 19th century to improve working and safety standards in factories. Needing to prove mens reas on the part of the factory owners was very difficult and resulted in very few prosecutions. The creation of strict liability offenses meant that convictions were increased. Common strict liability offenses today include the selling of alcohol to underage persons.

These laws are applied either in regulatory offenses enforcing social behaviour where minimal stigma attaches to a person upon conviction, or where society is concerned with the prevention of harm, and wishes to maximise the deterrent value of the offense. The imposition of strict liability may operate very unfairly in individual cases. For example, in Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Storkwain, a pharmacist supplied drugs to a patient who presented a forged doctor's prescription, but was convicted even though the House of Lords accepted that the pharmacist was blameless. The justification is that the misuse of drugs is a grave social evil and pharmacists should be encouraged to take even unreasonable care to verify prescriptions before supplying drugs. Similarly, where liability is imputed or attributed to another through vicarious liability or corporate liability, the effect of that imputation may be strict liability albeit that, in some cases, the accused will have a mens rea imputed and so, in theory, will be as culpable as the actual wrongdoer.

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