The Hobbs Act provides a federal alternative to traditional state robbery charges by criminalizing any robbery that affects interstate commerce. Courts have interpreted the Hobbs Act’s commerce element broadly, by requiring the government to demonstrate that a robbery had a de minimis effect on interstate commerce. With this standard, robberies of businesses generally satisfy the statute’s commerce element, but robberies of individuals often do not. This difference between a state and a federal robbery charge is significant, because the Hobbs Act generally carries substantially harsher penal sentences. This Note examines when the use of the internet in the robbery of an individual should satisfy the Hobbs Act’s commerce element. With the internet’s prominent role in society, the answer to this issue could impact whether countless robberies can be charged as federal crimes. This Note, therefore, contends that courts should adopt a functional test to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether internet use in a robbery satisfies the Hobbs Act’s commerce element. Adoption of this test would align with Commerce Clause case law and Hobbs Act case law. Furthermore, it would promote federalism and safeguard the traditional role of federal courts.
Lucas G. Spremulli, The Internet and the Hobbs Act: What’s the Connection?, 62 B.C. L. Rev. 1453 (2021), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol62/iss4/9