Dorsey v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: June 21, 2012
  • Case #: 11-5683 and 11-5721
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Breyer, J., joined by Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ. Scalia, J. filed a dissenting opinion, in which Roberts, C.J., and Thomas and Alito, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Fair Sentencing Act applies to all offenders who are sentenced after 2010 regardless of when the crime was committed.

This case was consolidated with Hill v. United States.
Petitioners were arrested for selling crack cocaine prior to August 2010 when the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) became law, but were not sentenced until September and December 2010 respectively. Under the FSA Petitioners were not subject to mandatory minimum sentences, however, under the 1986 Drug Act they were subject to a 10 year minimum sentence, which the judge imposed since Petitioners had committed their crimes prior to the FSA. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Supreme Court reversed. Using the FSA's language, basic objectives, structure and history, the Court reasoned that applying the FSA to all offenders sentenced after it became law leads to greater uniformity and held that the FSA's more lenient sentencing applies to all offenders sentenced after it was implemented.

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