Categorical Approach

Categorical Approach

(September 2022) Various statutes and guidelines subject defendants to enhanced punishment if they have applicable instant and/or prior convictions for a violent crime or a serious drug offense. Courts employ the categorical approach and the modified categorical approach to determine whether a conviction qualifies as a predicate offense for purposes of such enhanced penalties. This primer provides a general overview of selected statutes, sentencing guidelines, and case law involving application of the categorical approach. Although this primer identifies some of the key cases and concepts related to the categorical approach, it is not a comprehensive compilation of authority nor intended to be a substitute for independent research and analysis of primary sources.