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When the Right to a Jury Trial Applies

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial for criminal defendants. But, anyone who has fought a traffic ticket can tell you that not every criminal proceeding includes a jury. So when does the right to a jury trial apply? 

What the Sixth Amendment Says

"​In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

What It Means

United States Library of Congress, The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation

The Sixth Amendment is phrased in terms of all criminal prosecutions, but the Court has always excluded petty offenses from the guarantee to a jury trial in federal courts, defining the line between petty and serious offenses either by the maximum punishment available1 or by the nature of the offense.2 This line has been adhered to in the application of the Sixth Amendment to the states,3 and the Court has now held that no offense can be deemed 'petty' for purposes of the right to trial by jury where imprisonment for more than six months is authorized.A defendant who is prosecuted in a single proceeding for multiple petty offenses, however, does not have a constitutional right to a jury trial, even if the aggregate of sentences authorized for the offense exceeds six months.5

The Court has also made some changes in the meaning of the term criminal proceeding. Previously, the term had been applied only to situations in which a person has been accused of an offense by information or presentment.6 Thus, a civil action to collect statutory penalties and punitive damages, because not technically criminal, has been held not to implicate the right to jury trial.7 Subsequently, however, the Court focused its analysis on the character of the sanction to be imposed, holding that punitive sanctions may not be imposed without adhering to the guarantees of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.8 There is, however, no constitutional right to a jury trial in juvenile proceedings, at least in state systems and probably in the federal system as well.9

In a long line of cases, the Court had held that no constitutional right to jury trial existed in trials of criminal contempt.10 In Bloom v. Illinois,11 however, the Court announced that "our deliberations have convinced us that serious contempts are so nearly like other serious crimes that they are subject to the jury trial provisions of the Constitution . . . and that the traditional rule is constitutionally infirm insofar as it permits other than petty contempts to be tried without honoring a demand for a jury trial." The Court has consistently held, however, that a jury is not required for purposes of determining whether a defendant is ineligible for the death penalty because of mental illness or intellectual disability.12

What Issues Are Presented to the Jury?

Within the context of a criminal trial, what factual issues are submitted to the jury was traditionally determined by whether the fact to be established is an element of a crime or instead is a sentencing factor.13 Under this approach, the right to a jury had extended to the finding of all facts establishing the elements of a crime, but sentencing factors could be evaluated by a judge.14 Evaluating the issue primarily under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, the Court initially deferred to Congress and the states on this issue, allowing them broad leeway in determining which facts are elements of a crime and which are sentencing factors.15

Breaking with this tradition, however, the Court in Apprendi v. New Jersey held that a sentencing factor cannot be used to increase the maximum penalty imposed for the underlying crime.16 The relevant inquiry is one not of form, but of effect.17 Apprendi had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for no more than ten years but had been sentenced to 12 years based on a judge's findings, by a preponderance of the evidence, that enhancement grounds existed under the state's hate crimes law. [A]ny fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum, the Court concluded, must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.18

The one exception Apprendi recognized was for sentencing enhancements based on recidivism.19 In Alleyne v. United States, the Court extended Apprendi to require that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum sentence must be submitted to the jury.20

The Impact of Apprendi v. New Jersey

Apprendi's importance soon became evident as the Court applied its reasoning in other situations to strike down state or federal laws on Sixth Amendment grounds.21 In Ring v. Arizona, the Court applied Apprendi to invalidate an Arizona law that authorized the imposition of the death penalty only if the judge made a factual determination as to the existence of any of several aggravating factors.22 Although Arizona had required that the judge's findings as to aggravating factors be made beyond a reasonable doubt, and not merely by a preponderance of the evidence, the Court held that a jury must make those findings if the existence of particular facts is a precondition for imposing a judgment within a particular range.23

Similarly, in Hurst v. Florida, the Court applied Apprendi, as well as the precedent of Ring, to invalidate a Florida statute authorizing a hybrid proceeding in which the jury renders an advisory verdict but the judge makes the ultimate sentencing determination.24 According to the Court, such proceedings run afoul of the Sixth Amendment because the judge, not the jury, makes the findings of fact that are necessary before imposing the death penalty.25

Juries and Sentencing 

In Blakely v. Washington,26 the Court applied Apprendi to cast doubt on types of widely adopted reform measures that were intended to foster more consistent sentencing practices. Blakely, who pled guilty to an offense for which the standard range under the Washington State's sentencing law was 49 to 53 months, was sentenced to 90 months based on the judge's determination – not derived from facts admitted in the guilty plea—that the offense had been committed with deliberate cruelty, a basis for an upward departure under the statute. The 90-month sentence conformed to statutory limits, but the Court made clear that 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. In other words, the relevant 'statutory maximum' is not the maximum sentence a judge may impose after finding additional facts, but the maximum he may impose without any additional findings.27

Learn More About Sentencing Guidelines Under Blakely v. Washington

Then, in United States v. Booker,28 the Court held that the same principles limit sentences that courts may impose under the federal Sentencing Guidelines.29 As the Court restated the principle in Booker, any fact (other than a prior conviction) which is necessary to support a sentence exceeding the maximum authorized by the facts established by a plea of guilty or a jury verdict must be admitted by the defendant or proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.30

Attempts to distinguish Blakely were rejected. The Court concluded that the fact that the Guidelines were developed by the Sentencing Commission rather than by Congress lacks constitutional significance.31 Instead, the Guidelines were suspect in application because, on the one hand, they curtailed the role of jury factfinding in determining the upper range of a sentence and, on the other hand, they mandated sentences from which a court could depart only in a limited number of cases and after separately finding the existence of factors not presented to the jury.32 The mandatory nature of the Guidelines was also important to the Court's formulation of a remedy.33 Rather than engrafting a jury trial requirement onto the Sentencing Reform Act, under which the Guidelines were adopted, the Court instead invalidated two of its provisions, one making application of the Guidelines mandatory, and, concomitantly, one requiring de novo review for appeals of departures from the mandatory Guidelines, and held that the remainder of the Act could remain intact.34 As the Court explained, this remedy makes the Guidelines effectively advisory. It requires a sentencing court to consider Guidelines ranges, but it permits the court to tailor the sentence in light of other statutory concerns as well.35

In Cunningham v. California,36 the Court addressed whether California's determinate state sentencing law, yet another style of legislative effort intended to regularize criminal sentencing, survived the Booker - Blakely line of cases. That law, and its implementing rules, required that the trial judge in the case sentence the defendant to 12 years in prison unless the judge found one or more additional circumstances in aggravation, in which case the sentence would be 16 years.

Aggravating circumstances could include specific factual findings made by a judge under a preponderance of the evidence standard in apparent violation of Booker and Blakely. The court was also free to consider additional criteria reasonably related to the decision being made.37

The state argued that this latter provision conformed the California sentencing scheme to Booker, which contemplated that judges retain discretion to select a specific sentence within a statutory range, subject to appellate review to determine reasonableness. The Court rejected this argument, finding that the scheme impermissibly allocated sole authority to judges to find the facts that permitted the imposition of a higher alternative sentence.38

The Court, however, has refused to extend Apprendi to a judge's decision to impose sentences for discrete crimes consecutively rather than concurrently.39 The Court explained that, when a defendant has been convicted of multiple offenses, each involving discrete sentencing prescriptions, the states apply various rules regarding whether a judge may impose the sentences consecutively or concurrently.40 The Court held that twin considerations—historical practice and respect for state sovereignty—counsel against extending Apprendi's rule to preclude judicial fact-finding in this situation, as well.41

In Rita v. United States, the Court upheld the application, by federal courts of appeals, of the presumption that a sentence imposed within a properly calculated United States Sentencing Guidelines range is a reasonable sentence.42 Even if the presumption increases the likelihood that the judge, not the jury, will find 'sentencing facts,' the Court wrote, it does not violate the Sixth Amendment.

"This Court's Sixth Amendment cases do not automatically forbid a sentencing court to take account of factual matters not determined by a jury and to increase the sentence in consequence. Nor do they prohibit the sentencing judge from taking account of the Sentencing Commission's factual findings or recommended sentences."

The Sixth Amendment question, the Court has said, is whether the law forbids a judge to increase a defendant's sentence unless the judge finds facts that the jury did not find (and the offender did not concede). A nonbinding appellate presumption that a Guidelines sentence is reasonable does not require the judge to impose that sentence. Still, less does it forbid the sentencing judge from imposing a sentence higher than the Guidelines provide for the jury-determined facts standing alone.43

In Gall v. United States,44 the Court held that, while the extent of the difference between a particular sentence and the recommended Guidelines range is surely relevant, courts of appeals must review all sentences—whether inside, just outside, or significantly outside the Guidelines range—under a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard.45

The Court rejected an appellate rule that requires 'extraordinary' circumstances to justify a sentence outside the Guidelines range, and also rejected the use of a rigid mathematical formula that uses the percentage of a departure as the standard for determining the strength of the justifications required for a specific sentence. These approaches, the Court said, come too close to creating an impermissible presumption of unreasonableness for sentences outside the Guidelines range.46

Subsequently, in Spears v. United States,47 the Court, emphasizing that the Guidelines are advisory only, clarified that district courts are entitled to reject and vary categorically from the Guidelines based on a policy disagreement with those Guidelines.48 In Spears, a district court had given a defendant a sentence significantly below the Guidelines for distribution of crack cocaine, noting that the Guidelines required 100 times more powder cocaine than crack cocaine to trigger a particular sentencing range. The Supreme Court held that, if a sentencing court believes that the 100-to-1 ratio embodied in the sentencing guidelines for the treatment of crack cocaine versus powder cocaine creates an unwarranted disparity within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), then it may vary downward from the Guidelines even when the particular defendant presents no special mitigating circumstances to justify a lower sentence.49

Are Sentencing Guidelines Unconstitutional?

The Booker line of cases addresses the role of the Sentencing Guidelines in imposing and reviewing individual sentences. Booker, however, did not overturn the Sentencing Reform Act in its entirety, nor did it abolish the Guidelines themselves. One set of provisions left intact directed the Sentencing Commission to review the Guidelines periodically, authorized it to reduce the Guidelines range for individual offenses and make the reduced ranges retroactive, but also generally foreclosed a court from then reducing a sentence previously imposed to one less than the minimum contained in the amended Guideline range. In Dillon v. United States,50 the Court distinguished this sentence modification process from sentencing or resentencing and upheld mandatory limits on judicial reductions of sentences under it.

A splintered Court extended Apprendi and its progeny to the setting of a supervised release revocation in United States v. Haymond.51 Haymond centered on the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k), which provided (among other things) that if a judge finds by the preponderance of the evidence that a sex-offender defendant on supervised release has committed one of several enumerated offenses, including the possession of child pornography, the judge must impose an additional term of imprisonment of at least five years and up to life, regardless of the nature of the initial crime of conviction.52 A felon who was found with child pornography while on supervised release and was sentenced under § 3583(k) challenged the constitutionality of that law.53 A four-Justice plurality concluded in an opinion by Justice Gorsuch that the statute was unconstitutional, at least as applied to the defendant's case.54

Citing Apprendi and Alleyne , the plurality reasoned that because the statute compelled a judge to sentence the defendant to a minimum of five years in prison without empaneling a jury or requiring the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the application of the statute to the defendant violated the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.55

Providing a fifth vote on the constitutional question, Justice Breyer concurred only in the judgment of the Court.56 His opinion limited the scope of the plurality opinion, which he argued could potentially reach other, more commonplace provisions governing supervised release proceedings.57 Specifically, Justice Breyer distinguished ordinary supervised release proceedings, which typically result in fairly limited terms of imprisonment based on the severity of the original crime, from § 3583(k) because the latter (1) mandated that the judge impose a minimum term of imprisonment that (2) applied only when a defendant committed a discrete set of criminal offenses.58 Consequently, rather than constituting an ordinary revocation of supervised release, in Justice Breyer's view the statute more closely resemble[d] the punishment of new criminal offenses without the protection of Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.59

More on the Sixth Amendment


  1. District of Columbia v. Clawans, 300 U.S. 617 (1937)Schick v. United States, 195 U.S. 65 (1904)Callan v. Wilson, 127 U.S. 540 (1888).
  2. District of Columbia v. Colts, 282 U.S. 63 (1930).
  3. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 159–62 (1968)Dyke v. Taylor Implement Mfg. Co., 391 U.S. 216 (1968).
  4. Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66, 69 (1970). Justices Black and Douglas would have required a jury trial in all criminal proceedings in which the sanction imposed bears the indicia of criminal punishment. Id. at 74 (concurring); Cheff v. Schnackenberg, 384 U.S. 373, 384, 386 (1966) (dissenting). Chief Justice Burger and Justices Harlan and Stewart objected to setting this limitation at six months for the States, preferring to give them greater leeway. Baldwin, 399 U.S. at 76; Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78, 117, 143 (1970) (dissenting). No jury trial was required when the trial judge suspended the sentence and placed the defendant on probation for three years. Frank v. United States, 395 U.S. 147 (1969). There is a presumption that offenses carrying a maximum imprisonment of six months or less are petty, although it is possible that such an offense could be pushed into the serious category if the legislature tacks on onerous penalties not involving incarceration. No jury trial is required, however, when the maximum sentence is six months in jail, a fine not to exceed $1,000, a 90-day driver's license suspension, and attendance at an alcohol abuse education course. Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, 489 U.S. 538, 542–44 (1989).
  5. Lewis v. United States, 518 U.S. 322 (1996).
  6. United States v. Zucker, 161 U.S. 475, 481 (1896).
  7. 161 U.S. at 481. See also Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Stranahan, 214 U.S. 320 (1909)Hepner v. United States, 213 U.S. 103 (1909).
  8. Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963). The statute at issue in Mendoza-Martinez automatically divested an American of citizenship for departing or remaining outside the United States to evade military service. A later line of cases, beginning in 1967, held that the Fourteenth Amendment broadly barred Congress from involuntarily expatriating any citizen who was born in the United States.
  9. McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971).
  10. E.g.Green v. United States, 356 U.S. 165, 183–87 (1958), and cases cited; United States v. Barnett, 376 U.S. 681, 692–700 (1964), and cases cited. A Court plurality in Cheff v. Schnackenberg, 384 U.S. 373 (1966), held, asserting the Court's supervisory power over the lower federal courts, that criminal contempt sentences in excess of six months imprisonment could not be imposed without a jury trial or adequate waiver.
  11. 391 U.S. 194, 198 (1968). Justices Harlan and Stewart dissented. Id. at 215. As in other cases, the Court drew the line between serious and petty offenses at six months, but because, unlike other offenses, no maximum punishments are usually provided for contempts it indicated the actual penalty imposed should be looked to. Id. at 211. See also Dyke v. Taylor Implement Mfg. Co., 391 U.S. 216 (1968). The distinction between criminal and civil contempt may be somewhat more elusive. International Union, UMW v. Bagwell, 512 U.S. 821 (1994) (fines levied on the union were criminal in nature where the conduct did not occur in the court's presence, the court's injunction required compliance with an entire code of conduct, and the fines assessed were not compensatory).
  12. Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399, 416–417 (1986)Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 317 (2002)Schriro v. Smith, 546 U.S. 6, 7 (2005)See Eighth Amendment, Limitations on Capital Punishment: Diminished Capacity, infra.
  13. In Washington v. Recuenco, however, the Court held that [f]ailure to submit a sentencing factor to the jury, like failure to submit an element [of a crime] to the jury, is not structural error, entitling the defendant to automatic reversal, but can be harmless error. 548 U.S. 212, 222 (2006).
  14. In James v. United States, 550 U.S. 192 (2007), the Court found no Sixth Amendment issue raised when it considered the elements of the offense without inquiring into the specific conduct of this particular offender. Id. at 202. The question before the Court was whether, under federal law, attempted burglary, as defined by Florida law, presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another and therefore constitutes a violent felony, subjecting the defendant to a longer sentence. Id. at 196. In answering this question, the Court employed the categorical approach of looking only to the statutory definition and not considering the particular facts disclosed by the record of conviction. Id. at 202. Thus, the Court [was] engaging in statutory interpretation, not judicial factfinding, and [s]uch analysis raises no Sixth Amendment issue. Id. at 214.
  15. For instance, the Court held that whether a defendant visibly possessed a gun during a crime may be designated by a state as a sentencing factor, and determined by a judge based on the preponderance of evidence. McMillan v. Pennsylvania, 477 U.S. 79 (1986). After resolving the issue under the Due Process Clause, the Court dismissed the Sixth Amendment jury trial claim as merit[ing] little discussion. Id. at 93. For more on the due process issue, see the discussion in Proof, Burden of Proof, and Presumptions, infra.
  16. 530 U.S. 466, 490 (2000).
  17. 530 U.S. at 494. [M]erely because the state legislature placed its hate crime sentence enhancer within the sentencing provisions of the criminal code does not mean that the finding of a biased purpose to intimidate is not an essential element of the offense. Id. at 495 (internal quotation omitted).
  18. 530 U.S. at 490.
  19. 530 U.S. at 490. Enhancement of sentences for repeat offenders is traditionally considered a part of sentencing, and a judge may find the existence of previous valid convictions even if the result is a significant increase in the maximum sentence available. Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224 (1998) (deported alien reentering the United States is subject to a maximum sentence of two years, but upon proof of a felony record, is subject to a maximum of twenty years). Almendarez-Torres was cited with approval on this point in James v. United States, 550 U.S. 192, 214 n.8 (2007) (prior convictions need not be treated as an element of the offense for Sixth Amendment purposes). See also Parke v. Raley, 506 U.S. 20 (1992) (if the prosecutor has the burden of establishing a prior conviction, a defendant can be required to bear the burden of challenging its validity).
  20. 570 U.S. 99, 102 (2013) (overruling Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002)).
  21. Apprendi has influenced the Court's ruling on matters of statutory interpretation. For example, in Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), a plurality of the Court concluded that the elements based approach to interpreting the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA)—wherein a judge is prohibited from inquiring into the specific conduct of a particular offender's previous acts in determining whether a sentence enhancement applies—is necessitated by Apprendi's holding that generally only a jury, and not a judge, may find facts that increase a maximum penalty. Id. at 2252; see also id. at 2258 (Kennedy, J., concurring) (joining the five-Justice majority opinion, but expressing a reservation about the majority's reliance on Apprendi, as that case was incorrect, and . . . does not compel the elements based approach.); Descamps v. United States, 570 U.S. 254, 269 (2013) (noting the serious Sixth Amendment concerns that would arise if the element-centric, categorical approach was not adopted with regard to interpreting the ACCA).
  22. 536 U.S. 584 (2002).
  23. Because Arizona's enumerated aggravating factors operate as 'the functional equivalent of an element of a greater offense,' the Sixth Amendment requires that they be found by a jury. Id. at 509 (quoting Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 494 n.19). The Court rejected Arizona's request that it recognizes an exception for capital sentencing in order not to interfere with elaborate sentencing procedures designed to comply with the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 605–07.
  24. 577 U.S. ___, No. 14-7505, slip op. at 1–2 (2016) (quoting Ring, 536 U.S. at 584 n.6) (quotation marks omitted). In so doing, the Court expressly overruled its earlier decisions in Spaziano v. Florida, 468 U.S. 447 (1984), and Hildwin v. Florida, 490 U.S. 638 (1989) (per curiam), which approved of Florida's hybrid proceedings on the grounds that the Sixth Amendment does not require that the specific findings authorizing the imposition of the sentence of death be made by a jury. Id. at 9 (quoting Hildwin, 490 U.S. at 640–41). Both decisions were issued prior to Ring. Nonetheless, as the Court held in McKinney v. Arizona, neither Ring nor Hurst held that a jury is constitutionally required to weigh the aggravating and mitigating circumstances or make the ultimate sentencing decision within the relevant range. See 140 S. Ct. 702, 707–08 (2020). Instead, building on Apprendi, those cases concluded that the Sixth Amendment merely requires a jury to find the existence of aggravating facts necessary to qualify for the death penalty. Id. at 708. As a result, the McKinney Court concluded that Ring and Hurst did not cast doubt on the Court's ruling in Clemons v. Mississippi, 494 U.S. 738 (1990)McKinney, 140 S. Ct. at 708. Clemons allowed an appellate court, following a determination that the jury relied on an impermissible aggravating circumstance in sentencing a defendant to death, to reweigh the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. 494 U.S. at 741. The Clemons Court reasoned that such review was akin to harmless-error review because the appellate court was simply determining whether the remaining factual findings that the jury already considered still warranted the death penalty. Id.
  25. Id. at 622.
  26. 542 U.S. 296 (2004).
  27. 542 U.S. at 303–304 (italics in original; citations omitted). In Southern Union Co. v. United States, 567 U.S. 343 (2012), the Court cited this passage in Blakely as a springboard to its conclusion that the Apprendi line of cases applies in imposing criminal fines. The maximum fine that could be imposed in Southern Union Co. was pegged to the number of days a violation continued, but the jury was not asked to determine the duration of the violation. The Court saw no principled basis for treating criminal fines differently from imprisonment or capital punishment. In all these cases, the Sixth Amendment guards against judicial factfinding that enlarges the maximum punishment a defendant faces beyond what the jury's verdict or the defendant's admissions allow.
  28. 543 U.S. 220 (2005).
  29. Under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the United States Sentencing Commission adopted binding Sentencing Guidelines, and courts were required to impose sentences within the narrow, defined ranges. A judge could depart from the applicable Guideline only upon finding in writing that an aggravating or mitigating factor was present that had not adequately been considered by the Commission. See Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361 (1989).
  30. 543 U.S. at 244.
  31. 543 U.S. at 237. Relying on Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361 (1989), the Court also rejected a separation-of-powers argument. Id. at 754–55.
  32. 543 U.S. at 233–35.
  33. There were two distinct opinions of the Court in Booker. The first, authored by Justice Stevens and joined by Justices Scalia, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg (the same Justices who comprised the five-Justice Blakely majority), applied Blakely to find a Sixth Amendment violation; the other, authored by Justice Breyer, and joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, and Ginsburg (the Blakely dissenters joined by Justice Ginsburg), set forth the remedy.
  34. 543 U.S. at 259. Consistent with the role it envisioned for a sentencing judge, the Court substituted a reasonableness standard for the statutory de novo appellate review standard that it struck down. 543 U.S. at 262.
  35. 543 U.S. at 245–246 (statutory citations omitted). Although not addressed in the Booker ruling, a provision of the Sentencing Guidelines that limits district courts from departing from the Guidelines during resentencing (the previous sentence having been vacated) on grounds other than those considered during for the first sentencing, was subsequently struck down as conflicting with the now-advisory nature of the Guidelines. Pepper v. United States, 562 U.S. 476 (2011).
  36. 549 U.S. 270 (2007).
  37. 549 U.S. at 278–79, quoting California Rule 4.408(a).
  38. 549 U.S. at 279–80. The reasonableness requirement that Booker anticipated for the federal system operates within the Sixth Amendment constraints delineated in our precedent, not as a substitute for those constraints. 549 U.S. at 292–93.
  39. Oregon v. Ice, 555 U.S. 160 (2009).
  40. Most states follow the common-law tradition of giving judges unfettered discretion over the matter, while some states presume that sentences will run consecutively but allow judges to order concurrent sentences upon finding cause to do so. It is undisputed, the Court noted, that States may proceed on [either of these] two tracks without transgressing the Sixth Amendment. Id. at 163.
  41. Id. at 168. The Court also noted other decisions judges make that are likely to evade the strictures of Apprendi, including determining the length of supervised release, attendance at drug rehabilitation programs, terms of community service, and imposition of fines and orders of restitution. Id. at 171–72.
  42. 551 U.S. 338, 341 (2007). The Court emphasized that it was upholding an appellate court presumption. Given our explanation in Booker that appellate 'reasonableness' review merely asks whether the trial court abused its discretion, the presumption applies only on appellate review. . . . [T]he sentencing court does not enjoy the benefit of a legal presumption that the Guidelines sentence should apply. Id. at 351, quoted in part in Nelson v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 891 (2009) (per curiam), where the Court added, The Guidelines are not only not mandatory on sentencing courts; they are also not to be presumed reasonable. Id. at 892.
  43. 551 U.S. at 352, 353. The Court added: The fact that we permit courts of appeals to adopt a presumption of reasonableness does not mean that courts may adopt a presumption of unreasonableness. . . . [A]ppellate courts may not presume that every variance from the advisory Guidelines is unreasonable. . . . Several courts of appeals have also rejected a presumption of unreasonableness. . . . However, a number of circuits adhere to the proposition that the strength of the justification needed to sustain an outside-Guidelines sentence varies in proportion to the degree of the variance. Id. at 354–55.
  44. 128 S. Ct. 586 (2007) (upholding a sentence of probation where the Guidelines had recommended imprisonment).
  45. 128 S. Ct. at 591. As explained in Rita and Gall, district courts must treat the Guidelines as the 'starting point and the initial benchmark.' Kimbrough v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 558 (2007) (upholding lower-than-Guidelines sentence for trafficker in crack cocaine, where sentence is based on a disagreement with the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine offenses). A district court judge may determine that, in the particular case, a within-Guidelines sentence is 'greater than necessary' to serve the objectives of sentencing. Kimbrough, 128 S. Ct. at 564.
  46. 128 S. Ct. at 595. Justice Alito, dissenting, wrote, we should not forget [that] . . . Booker and its antecedents are based on the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. . . . It is telling that the rules set out in the Court's opinion in the present case have nothing to do with juries or factfinding and, indeed, that not one of the facts that bears on petitioner's sentence is disputed. What is at issue, instead, is the allocation of the authority to decide issues of substantive sentencing policy, an issue on which the Sixth Amendment says absolutely nothing. The yawning gap between the Sixth Amendment and the Court's opinion should be enough to show that the Blakely - Booker line of cases has gone astray. Id. at 605 (Alito, J., dissenting).
  47. 129 S. Ct. 840 (2009) (per curiam).
  48. 129 S. Ct. at 842, 843–44.
  49. 129 S. Ct. at 842.
  50. Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817 (2010).
  51. See 139 S. Ct. 2369 (2019).
  52. Id. at 2374 (plurality opinion).
  53. Id. at 2374.
  54. Id. at 2373.
  55. Id. at 2378. The plurality declined to resolve the question of how to remedy the constitutional violation, concluding that the wiser course was to return the case to the appellate court for it to have the opportunity to address whether the constitutional infirmity can be cured by requiring a jury acting under the reasonable doubt standard decide whether the defendant violated § 3583(k). Id. at 2384–85.
  56. Id. at 2385–86 (Breyer, J., concurring).
  57. Id. at 2386.
  58. Id.
  59. Id.
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