Brief filed: 04/05/2021
United States v. Davis
3rd Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 19-1696
Panel decision 985 F.3d 298 (3rd Cir. Jan. 12, 2021)
The panel opinion broadens the definition of “substantial step,” contravening Supreme Court and Circuit precedent and raising constitutional concerns. A “substantial step” is conduct “toward” the commission of the object offense. Davis improperly broadens statutory attempt offenses, with constitutional implications. Requiring a substantial step “toward” the commission of the object offense strikes the right balance between protecting the public and avoiding overcriminalization. Davis’s redefinition of the actus reus for attempt has broad implications.
Lisa A. Mathewson, The Law Offices of Lisa A. Mathewson, LLC, Philadelphia, PA; Carolyn H. Kendall, Post & Schell, P.C., Philadelphia, PA; Mira Baylson and Molly Rucki, Cozen O’Connor, Philadelphia, PA.