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Media Alerts - United States v. Alleyne - Fourth Circuit
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November 12, 2013
  United States v. Alleyne - Fourth Circuit
Headline: Courts Cannot Exceed Mandatory Minimum Sentences Without Jury Approval

Area of Law: Criminal Procedure; Sentencing

Issue Presented: Whether facts presented at trial that increase the mandatory minimum sentence must go before the jury and be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Brief Summary: Allen Alleyne was convicted of using or carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. Although this offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment, the district court increased the mandatory minimum to seven years after finding that the firearm had been "brandished." In 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's sentence. Alleyne appealed to the Supreme Court, which overruled precedent and held that any fact that increases the penalty for a crime must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt. In the past, facts that increased a mandatory minimum sentence were "sentencing factors," and were required to be found only by a preponderance of the evidence by the presiding judge. However, the Court now requires these facts be sent to the jury, classifying them as "elements" of the charged offense. This applies regardless of whether the fact increases the mandatory minimum or maximum sentence. Under the new rule, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime is an "element" of the crime and must go in front of the jury. The Court, therefore, vacated and remanded Alleyne's case back to the Fourth Circuit in 2013.

The Fourth Circuit, remaining consistent with the new Supreme Court rule, vacated Alleyne's seven-year sentence and remanded his case for resentencing.

To read the full opinion, please visit:

Panel: Judges Wilkinson, King, and Agee

Date of Issued Opinion: 09/24/2013

Docket Number: No. 11-4208

Decided: 09/24/2013

Case Alert Author: Samantha Spencer

Counsel: Michael S. Nachmanoff, Federal Public Defender, Mary E. Maguire, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Patrick L. Bryant, Appellate Attorney, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellant. Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney, Alexandria, Virginia, Michael R. Gill, Assistant United States Attorney, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.

Author of Opinion: Per Curiam

Case Alert Supervisor: Professor Renée Hutchins

    Posted By: Renee Hutchins @ 11/12/2013 12:47 PM     4th Circuit  

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