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Federal Prisoner's Conviction for Contraband Weapon a Crime of Violence

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a federal prisoner convicted of possessing contraband, a razor blade inside a matchbook, is eligible to be sentenced for a crime of violence." The prisoner was indicted by a grand jury on changes of assaulting a corrections officer, resisting a corrections officer, and possession of contraband. A jury acquitted the prisoner of the first two charges, but found him guilty of the contraband charge. The Pennsylvania federal district court found the charge was a crime of violence" that qualified the prisoner for sentencing as a career offender. The prisoner appealed this sentence finding.

The Third Circuit found that U.S.S.G. § 4B1-2(a)(2) includes as a crime of violence an offense that involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." The Court held that a prisoner's possession of a weapon in prison inherently, by its nature," presents a serious potential risk of physical injury" to other persons in prison. The Court noted this decision is consistent with its previous holding that a felony conviction for escape is a crime of violence even though the defendant absented himself from prison without violence.

The district court's sentence of 41 months as a career offender imposed in this case was affirmed. See: United States v. Keeney, 310 F.3d 135 (3rd Cir. 2002).

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Related legal case

United States v. Keeney