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The term 'crime of violence' means an offense that is a felony and has as one of its essential elements the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or an offense that by its very nature involves a substantial risk that such physical force may be used in the course of committing the offense. 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)(3)
The legislative history to section 924(c) indicates that Congress intended a categorical approach to the 'crime of violence' language in subsection (3)(B). The Senate Report stated:
The term means an offense . . . that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or any felony that, by its nature, involves the substantial risk that physical force against another person or property may be used in the course of its commission. The former category would include a threatened or attempted simple assault or battery on another person; offenses such as burglary in violation of a State law and the Assimilative Crimes Act would be included in the latter category inasmuch as such an offense would involve the substantial risk of physical force against another person or against the property. Senate Comm. on Judiciary, Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1983, S.Rep. No. 98-225, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. 307 (1984), reprinted in 1984 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3182, 3486-87.
Moreover, two other circuits have held that whether an offense is a crime of violence is a question of law. In United States v. Weston, 960 F.2d 212 (1st Cir.'92), the First Circuit held that threatening physical retaliation for information given to law enforcement officials is categorically a crime of violence. The court reasoned that the matter 'did not implicate the weighing of testimony, the assessment of credibility, the use of external facts, or the like.' Id. at 217. In United States v. Aragon, 983 F.2d 1306 (4th Cir.'93), the Fourth Circuit held that for the purposes of 18 U.S.C. section 16(b)
- a statute identical to section 924(c)(3)(B) -- attempting to help a prisoner escape is categorically a crime of violence. The court reasoned that when the statute refers to an offense that 'by its nature' involves a substantial risk of force, it 'directs the court to look to the generic nature of an offense . . . .' Id. at 1312.