In a federal criminal case, the Sixth Circuit addressed whether an Ohio state conviction for arson matched the federal generic definition of arson and whether an Ohio state conviction for domestic violence qualified as a crime of violence under federal sentencing laws.  The court determined that Ohio's arson statute (criminalizing knowingly causing or creating a substantial risk of physical harm to property without the victim’s consent by means of fire or explosion) was a categorical match to the federal generic definition of arson, which requires "the intentional or malicious burning of any property."  The court rejected the petitioner's argument that the statute must include an element of a risk of harm to people.  Though this determination was made in the context of a federal sentencing case, it has implications for immigration law, which defines aggravated felonies to include offenses involving explosive materials.

Ohio's domestic violence statute criminalizes knowingly causing, or attempting to cause, physical harm to a family or household member.  Physical harm, in turn, is defined as any injury, illness, or other physiological mpairment, regardless of its gravity or duration.  The court determined that this met the definition of a crime of violence under the federal sentencing law because it has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another.  Given the similarities between the definition of a crime of violence under federal sentencing law and immigration law, this analysis certainly has implications for immigration court proceedings as well.

The full decision in US v. Gatson can be found here: