The court therefore set a maximum potential fine of $38.1 million, from which it imposed a fine of $6 million and a "community service obligatio[n]" of $12 million. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected the District Court's conclusion that the jury necessarily found a violation of 762 days. But the Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence because it also held, again in contrast to the District Court, that Apprendi does not apply to criminal fines. Other Circuits have reached the opposite conclusion. The majority Supreme Court said, "We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict. . . and now reverse. . . We hold that the rule of Apprendi applies to the imposition of criminal fines. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
The High Court explains, "Under Apprendi, '[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.' 530 U. S., at 490. The 'statutory maximum' for Apprendi purposes is the maximum sentence a judge may impose solely on the basis of the facts reflected in the jury verdict or admitted by the defendant.' Blakely, 542 U. S., at 303 (emphasis deleted). Thus, while judges may exercise discretion in sentencing, they may not 'inflict[to] punishment that the jury's verdict alone does not allow.'"
The dissenting opinion indicates, "Where a criminal fine is at issue, I believe the Sixth Amendment permits a sentencing judge to determine sentencing facts -- facts that are not elements of the crime but are relevant only to the amount of the fine the judge will impose. Those who framed the Bill of Rights understood that 'the finding of a particular fact' of this kind was ordinarily a matter for a judge and not necessarily 'within "the domain of the jury."' Oregon v. Ice, 555 U. S. 160, 168 (2009) (quoting Harris v. United States, 536 U. S. 545, 557 (2002) (plurality opinion)). The Court's contrary conclusion, I believe, is a historical and will lead to increased problems of unfairness in the administration of our criminal justice system."
Access the complete opinion and dissent (click here). Access the Supreme Court docket (click here). Access the oral argument transcript (click here). Access the briefs filed in the case (click here). [#Haz, #Remed, #SupCt]
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