Decision

Decision Scione v. Commonwealth; Commonwealth v. Barnes

Date: 01/15/2019
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Scione v. Commonwealth; Commonwealth v. Barnes
Supreme Judicial Court, January 15, 2019
(Pretrial Detention/G. L. 276,
§58A)

The issue before the Court was determining whether G. L. c. 265, §23A (rape of child aggravated by age difference) and G. L. c. 266, §102A (use of incendiary device) qualify as a predicate offense under the pretrial detention statue, G. L. c. 276, §58A. 

Barnes and §23A: The Court concluded that §23A does not qualify as a predicate offense under §58A in its current form.  Specifically, §58A does not list rape aggravated by age difference as a qualifying offense.  The force clause of §58A takes a categorical approach, and thus, because “the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force” is not an element of §23A, it does not qualify as a predicate offense under this clause.  Finally, the decision makes clear the language of the residual clause is unconstitutionally vague.

Scione and §102A: The Court concluded a judge may look beyond the elements of a crime to the facts surrounding the offense to determine whether it is a “misdemeanor or felony involving abuse,” and thus a predicate offense under §58A.  In the circumstances of this case, use of an incendiary device in violation of G. L. c. 266, §102A qualifies as a predicate offense.

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