CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner Josue Leocal, a Haitian citizen who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was convicted in 2000 of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and causing serious bodily injury, in violation of Florida law. See Fla. Stat. § 316.193(3)(c)(2) (2003). Classifying this conviction as a "crime of violence" under 18 U. S. C. § 16, and therefore an "aggravated felony" under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ordered that petitioner be deported pursuant to § 237(a) of the INA. The Court of Appeals
Petitioner immigrated to the United States in 1980 and became a lawful permanent resident in 1987. In January 2000, he was charged with two counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury under Fla. Stat. § 316.193(3)(c)(2), after he caused an accident resulting in injury to two people. He pleaded guilty to both counts and was sentenced to 2½ years in prison.
In November 2000, while he was serving his sentence, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) initiated removal proceedings against him pursuant to § 237(a) of the INA. Under that provision, "[a]ny alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony . . . is deportable" and may be removed upon an order of the Attorney General. 66 Stat. 201, 8 U. S. C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). Section 101(a)(43) of the INA defines "aggravated felony" to include, inter alia, "a crime of violence (as defined in section 16 of title 18, but not including a purely political offense) for which the term of imprisonment [is] at least one year."
Here, the INS claimed that petitioner's DUI conviction was a "crime of violence" under § 16, and therefore an "aggravated felony" under the INA.
In October 2001, an Immigration Judge found petitioner removable, relying upon the Eleventh Circuit's decision in Le v. United States Attorney General, 196 F.3d 1352 (1999) (per curiam), which held that a conviction under the Florida DUI statute qualified as a crime of violence. The BIA affirmed.
Title 18 U. S. C. § 16 was enacted as part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which broadly reformed the federal criminal code in such areas as sentencing, bail, and drug enforcement, and which added a variety of new violent and nonviolent offenses. § 1001(a), 98 Stat. 2136. Congress employed the term "crime of violence" in numerous places in the Act, such as for defining the elements of particular offenses, see, e. g., 18 U. S. C. § 1959 (prohibiting threats to commit crimes of violence in aid of racketeering activity), or for directing when a hearing is required before a charged individual can be released on bail, see § 3142(f) (requiring a pretrial detention hearing for those alleged to have committed a crime of violence). Congress therefore provided in § 16 a general definition of the term "crime of violence" to be used throughout the Act. See § 1001(a),
Here, pursuant to § 237(a) of the INA, the Court of Appeals applied § 16 to find that petitioner's DUI conviction rendered him deportable. In determining whether petitioner's conviction falls within the ambit of § 16, the statute directs our focus to the "offense" of conviction. See § 16(a) (defining a crime of violence as "an offense that has as an element the use . . . of physical force against the person or property of another" (emphasis added)); § 16(b) (defining the term as "any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense" (emphasis added)). This language requires us to look to the elements and the nature of the offense of conviction, rather than to the particular facts relating to petitioner's crime.
Florida Stat. § 316.193(3)(c)(2) makes it a third-degree felony for a person to operate a vehicle while under the influence and, "by reason of such operation, caus[e] . . . [s]erious bodily injury to another." The Florida statute, while it requires proof of causation of injury, does not require proof of any particular mental state. See State v. Hubbard, 751 So.2d 552, 562-564 (Fla. 1999) (holding, in the context of a DUI manslaughter conviction under § 316.193, that the statute
Our analysis begins with the language of the statute. See Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S. 137, 144 (1995). The plain text of § 16(a) states that an offense, to qualify as a crime of violence, must have "as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another." We do not deal here with an attempted
Whether or not the word "use" alone supplies a mens rea element, the parties' primary focus on that word is too narrow. Particularly when interpreting a statute that features as elastic a word as "use," we construe language in its context and in light of the terms surrounding it. See Smith v. United States, 508 U.S. 223, 229 (1993); Bailey, supra, at 143. The critical aspect of § 16(a) is that a crime of violence is one involving the "use . . . of physical force against the person or property of another." (Emphasis added.) As we said in a similar context in Bailey, "use" requires active employment. 516 U. S., at 145. While one may, in theory, actively employ something in an accidental manner, it is much less natural to say that a person actively employs physical force against another person by accident. Thus, a person would "use . . . physical force against" another when pushing him; however, we would not ordinarily say a person "use[s] . . . physical force against" another by stumbling and falling into him. When interpreting a statute, we must give words their "ordinary or natural" meaning. Smith, supra, at 228. The key phrase in § 16(a) — the "use . . . of physical force against the person or property of another" — most naturally suggests a higher degree of intent than negligent or merely accidental conduct. See United States v. Trinidad-Aquino, 259 F. 3d, at 1145; Bazan-Reyes v. INS, 256 F. 3d, at 609.
Neither is petitioner's DUI conviction a crime of violence under § 16(b). Section 16(b) sweeps more broadly than § 16(a), defining a crime of violence as including "any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense." But § 16(b) does not thereby encompass all negligent misconduct, such as the negligent operation of a vehicle. It simply covers offenses that naturally involve a person acting in disregard of the risk that physical force might be used against another in committing an offense. The reckless disregard in § 16 relates not to the general conduct or to the possibility that harm will result from a person's conduct, but to the risk that the use of physical force against another might be required in committing a crime.
In construing both parts of § 16, we cannot forget that we ultimately are determining the meaning of the term "crime of violence." The ordinary meaning of this term, combined with § 16's emphasis on the use of physical force against another person (or the risk of having to use such force in committing a crime), suggests a category of violent, active crimes that cannot be said naturally to include DUI offenses. Cf. United States v. Doe, 960 F.2d 221, 225 (CA1 1992) (Breyer, C. J.) (observing that the term "violent felony" in 18 U. S. C. § 924(e) (2000 ed. and Supp. II) "calls to mind a tradition of crimes that involve the possibility of more closely related, active violence"). Interpreting § 16 to encompass accidental or negligent conduct would blur the distinction between the "violent" crimes Congress sought to distinguish for heightened punishment and other crimes. See United States v. Lucio-Lucio, 347 F.3d 1202, 1205-1206 (CA10 2003).
Section 16 therefore cannot be read to include petitioner's conviction for DUI causing serious bodily injury under Florida law.
Congress' separate listing of the DUI-causing-injury offense from the definition of "crime of violence" in § 16 is revealing. Interpreting § 16 to include DUI offenses, as the Government urges, would leave § 101(h)(3) practically devoid of significance. As we must give effect to every word of a statute wherever possible, see Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 174 (2001), the distinct provision for these offenses under § 101(h) bolsters our conclusion that § 16 does not itself encompass DUI offenses.
It is so ordered.