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UNITED STATES v. FLOYD

July 6, 1998

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
LACROIX FLOYD, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LAMBERTH

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

 This matter came before the court on June 30, 1998, on defendant's oral motion to revoke the magistrate's order of detention pending trial. Upon consideration of the relevant law and the factual proffers and arguments of counsel at the hearing, defendant's motion is denied for the reasons set forth below.

 I. BACKGROUND

 On May 21, 1998, Lieutenant Robert Kass of the United States Park Police was on patrol when he heard a broadcast of a description of persons who had assaulted a guard at the Museum of American History. Kass saw defendant and another man near the museum and believed that defendant matched the description from the broadcast. When the officer asked the two men to approach him, defendant first walked, then ran away throwing both his hat and another object to the ground. Defendant was then apprehended by other Park Police officers. Lieutenant Kass returned to the area where the objects were thrown, and discovered that the second object was a loaded gun. At the time of his arrest, defendant also had in his possession a plastic bag with rocks of what appeared to be cocaine base.

 After a detention hearing conducted before Magistrate Judge Facciola on May 27, 1998, defendant was ordered held without bond based upon the judge's finding of "clear and convincing evidence that defendant's release on any condition or combination of conditions will not reasonably assure the safety of the community." Defendant challenges this detention order on two grounds. First, he contends that simple possession of a firearm is not a "crime of violence" and therefore not a basis for pretrial detention under the Bail Reform Act. Second, defendant asks this court to exercise its de novo power of review of the record and conclude that even if pre-trial detention is a possibility, it is not warranted on the facts presented.

 II. ANALYSIS

 A. Possession of a Firearm by a Felon Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) is a Crime of Violence for Purposes of the Bail Reform Act.

 Under the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3141 et seq., a judicial officer is directed to conduct a detention hearing on motion by the Government in a case that involves, inter alia, a crime of violence. The term 'crime of violence' is defined 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 the course of committing the offense;" 18 U.S.C. § 3156(a)(4)(B) *fn1" At least one judge in this district has concluded that the mere possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, without more, does not constitute a "crime of violence" under the Bail Reform Act. See United States v. Gloster, 969 F. Supp. 92 (D.D.C. 1997) (Friedman, J.). Another judge has rejected a "categorical approach" to this question, preferring instead a case-by-case determination. See United States v. Epps, 987 F. Supp. 22, 24 (D.D.C. 1997) (Robertson, J.) However, this court chooses to follow the approach of Judges Hogan and Kollar-Kotelly, holding that possession of a firearm by a felon is a "crime of violence" for purposes of the Bail Reform Act. See United States v. Washington, 907 F. Supp. 476 (D.D.C. 1995) (Hogan, J.); United States v. Anderson, Crim. No. 97-329 (D.D.C. September 6, 1997) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.). As Judge Hogan noted in Washington,

 
Ultimately, this court finds that possession by a felon of a firearm is an offense which, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used. See 18 U.S.C. § 3156(a)(4)(A). An individual is presumed to know the law. Thus, when a felon chooses to possess a firearm, it must be presumed that he does so in conscious disregard of the law. A felon in possession of a firearm is aware that such activity is illegal, so his act of possessing weapons illustrates a knowing and willful disregard for the prohibition placed upon him.
 
Moreover, this court, like others before it, is concerned that there is an increased risk that a criminally-inclined individual is more likely to use a firearm already in his possession to commit a crime. United States v. Aiken, 775 F. Supp. 855, 856 (D. Md. 1991) "It follows that persons who violate the statute [§ 922(g)] are often persons who have little regard for the law and many such persons may fairly be classified as outlaws." United States v. Jones, 651 F. Supp. 1309, 1310 (E.D. Mich 1987).

 Washington, 907 F. Supp. at 485. Based on this reasoning, this court concurs that possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a "crime of violence" warranting a § 3142(f) pretrial detention hearing.

 B. The Pretrial Detention Factors Dictate that Detention is Warranted

 Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), in determining whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, a ...


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