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Alleyne v United States

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 17, 2013
Case #: 11-9335
Thomas, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III–B, III–C, and IV, in which Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II and III–A, in which Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Sotomayor, J., filed a concurring in opinion, in which Ginsburg and Kagan, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Roberts, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Scalia and Kennedy, JJ., joined. Alito, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-9335_i4dk.pdf

Criminal Law: "Elemental" facts must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the jury and any fact that raises the prescribed sentencing is "elemental".

Petitioner was convicted of several charges related to a bank robbery. The jury found that the Petitioner possessed a gun but did not brandish the gun. However, upon sentencing, the Judge raised the mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to 7 years by finding that the petitioner did, by a preponderance of the evidence, brandish the gun during the robbery. 

The Supreme Court reversed the sentencing and finds that "elemental" facts must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the jury and any fact that raises the prescribed sentencing is "elemental". The Supreme Court overrules Harris and applies Apprendi, which states that any fact that may alter the punishment of a criminal must be proven to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court states that the judge has discretion within the allowable range in sentencing, but any fact that alters that range must be proven to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt.