Handel Leads Legislation to Make Communities Safer

September 7, 2018 \\ Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Karen Handel (GA-6), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, released a statement regarding the Community Safety & Security Act (H.R. 6691), which she introduced and led to passage this week:

“Earlier this year, the term ‘crime of violence’ was deemed ‘unconstitutionally vague’ by the U.S. Supreme Court. To ensure that there is appropriate specificity in the legal definition of this term, I introduced legislation to more precisely define and address the Court’s concerns about vagueness,” said Representative Handel. “Failure to address this issue would have led to uncertainty in our courts and potentially disrupt the prosecution of certain crimes of violence. During my first term in Congress, making our communities safer and ending human trafficking have been a priority. This legislation furthers these goals by ensuring law enforcement and the judicial system have the legal certainty and clarity to appropriately prosecute crimes of violence and put serious criminals behind bars.” 


• Earlier this year, in United States v. Dimaya, the Supreme Court ruled that a clause in the U.S. Criminal Code, specifically 18 USC § 16(b), which defines “crime of violence,” is unconstitutionally vague. As a result, lower courts would have to make judgment calls as to which crimes “involved a substantial risk” of physical force. While the decision arose from a particular situation and specific court case, the Court’s ruling regarding this code section is broad and applies to all circumstances.

• To avoid differing interpretations of this legal term across the country, it is necessary for Congress to define in statute which specific crimes constitute an actual “crime of violence.” This provides legal clarity and consistency for law enforcement and across the judicial system.

• The Community Safety and Security Act is being considered this week and would amend the U.S. Criminal Code to specifically list those offenses that constitute a crime of violence.

• Those offenses include: human trafficking, voluntary manslaughter, attempted kidnapping, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child, sexual assault, burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm, and assault on a police officer.