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Peugh v United States

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 10, 2013
Case #: 12-62
Sotomayor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part III–C. Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, JJ., joined that opinion in full, and Kennedy, J., joined except as to Part III–C. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia and Alito, JJ., joined as to Parts I and II–C. Alito, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Scalia, J., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-62_5g68.pdf

Sentencing: A change in the sentencing guidelines after the date of the crime, which are then used to sentence an individual, is a violation of the Ex Post Facto clause.

Petitioner was convicted of 9 counts of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1344. The sentencing guidelines in effect at the time of the crime put the sentence for bank fraud between 30 to 37 months. However, after conviction and before sentencing, a new sentencing guideline was released which placed the sentence for bank fraud between 70 to 87 months. The trial judge used the newer guidelines and sentenced the Petitioner to 70 months in jail.


 Petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of changed sentencing guidelines when the change occurs after the commission of the correlating crime is a violation of the Ex Post Facto clause. The Supreme Court reasons that because judges must use the sentencing guidelines as a basis for sentencing, a change in the sentencing guidelines does amount to a change in law and is a violation of the Ex Post Facto clause, especially when those guidelines would lead to a significant risk of a higher sentence.