Alleyne v. United States, 11–9335.

Citation186 L.Ed.2d 314,570 U.S. 99,133 S.Ct. 2151
Decision Date17 June 2013
Docket NumberNo. 11–9335.,11–9335.
Parties Allen Ryan ALLEYNE, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES.
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

570 U.S. 99
133 S.Ct. 2151
186 L.Ed.2d 314

Allen Ryan ALLEYNE, Petitioner
v.
UNITED STATES.

No. 11–9335.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued Jan. 14, 2013.
Decided June 17, 2013.


Mary E. Maguire, for Petitioner.

Michael R. Dreeben, Washington, DC, for Respondent.

Mary E. Maguire, Ass't Federal Public Defender, Counsel of Record, Patrick L. Bryant, Appellate Attorney, Frances H. Pratt, Ass't Federal Public Defender, Michael S. Nachmanoff, Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond, VA, for Petitioner.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Michael R. Dreeben, Deputy Solicitor General, Counsel of Record, Eric J. Feigin, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Sonja M. Ralston, Attorney Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Respondent.

570 U.S. 102

Justice THOMAS announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III–B, III–C, and IV, and an opinion with respect to Parts

570 U.S. 103

II and III–A, in which Justice GINSBURG, Justice SOTOMAYOR, and Justice KAGAN join.

In Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545, 122 S.Ct. 2406, 153 L.Ed.2d 524 (2002), this Court held that judicial factfinding that increases the mandatory minimum sentence for a crime is permissible under the Sixth Amendment. We granted certiorari to consider whether that decision should be overruled. 568 U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 420, 184 L.Ed.2d 252 (2012).

Harris drew a distinction between facts that increase the statutory maximum and facts that increase only the mandatory minimum. We conclude that this distinction is inconsistent with our decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), and with the original meaning of the Sixth Amendment. Any fact that, by law, increases the penalty for a crime is an "element" that must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt. See id., at 483, n. 10, 490, 120 S.Ct. 2348. Mandatory minimum sentences increase the penalty for a crime. It follows, then, that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum is an "element" that must be submitted to the jury. Accordingly, Harris is overruled.

I

Petitioner Allen Ryan Alleyne and an accomplice devised a plan to rob a store manager as he drove the store's daily deposits to a local bank. By feigning car trouble, they tricked the manager to stop. Alleyne's accomplice approached the manager with a gun and demanded the store's deposits, which the manager surrendered. Alleyne was later charged with multiple federal offenses, including robbery affecting interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), and using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, § 924(c)(1)(A). Section 924(c)(1)(A) provides, in relevant part, that anyone who "uses or carries a firearm" in relation to a "crime of violence" shall:

"(i) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years;
570 U.S. 104
"(ii) if the firearm is brandished, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years; and
133 S.Ct. 2156
"(iii) if the firearm is discharged, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years."

The jury convicted Alleyne. The jury indicated on the verdict form that Alleyne had "[u]sed or carried a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence," but did not indicate a finding that the firearm was "[b]randished." App. 40.

The presentence report recommended a 7–year sentence on the § 924(c) count, which reflected the mandatory minimum sentence for cases in which a firearm has been "brandished," § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). Alleyne objected to this recommendation. He argued that it was clear from the verdict form that the jury did not find brandishing beyond a reasonable doubt and that he was subject only to the 5–year minimum for "us[ing] or carr[ying] a firearm." Alleyne contended that raising his mandatory minimum sentence based on a sentencing judge's finding that he brandished a firearm would violate his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.

The District Court overruled Alleyne's objection. It explained that, under Harris, brandishing was a sentencing factor that the court could find by a preponderance of evidence without running afoul of the Constitution. It found that the evidence supported a finding of brandishing, and sentenced Alleyne to seven years' imprisonment on the § 924(c) count. The Court of Appeals affirmed, likewise noting that Alleyne's objection was foreclosed by Harris . 457 Fed.Appx. 348 (C.A.4 2011) (per curiam ).

II

The Sixth Amendment provides that those "accused" of a "crime" have the right to a trial "by an impartial jury." This right, in conjunction with the Due Process Clause, requires that each element of a crime be proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506, 510, 115 S.Ct. 2310, 132 L.Ed.2d 444 (1995) ; In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368 (1970). The substance and scope of this right depend upon the

570 U.S. 105

proper designation of the facts that are elements of the crime.

A

The question of how to define a "crime"—and, thus, how to determine what facts must be submitted to the jury—has generated a number of divided opinions from this Court. The principal source of disagreement is the constitutional status of a special sort of fact known as a "sentencing factor." This term was first used in McMillan v. Pennsylvania, 477 U.S. 79, 86, 106 S.Ct. 2411, 91 L.Ed.2d 67 (1986), to refer to facts that are not found by a jury but that can still increase the defendant's punishment. Following McMillan 's introduction of this term, this Court has made a number of efforts to delimit its boundaries.

McMillan initially invoked the distinction between "elements" and "sentencing factors" to reject a constitutional challenge to Pennsylvania's Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Act, 42 Pa. Cons.Stat. § 9712 (1982). That law provided that anyone convicted of certain felonies would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence if the judge found, by a preponderance of evidence, that the person " ‘visibly possessed a firearm’ " in the course of committing specified crimes. 477 U.S., at 81, n. 1, 106 S.Ct. 2411. While the Court acknowledged that there were constitutional limits to the State's ability to "defin[e] crimes and prescrib[e] penalties," it found that the Commonwealth had permissibly defined visible possession as a sentencing factor, rather than an element. Id., at 86, 106 S.Ct. 2411. In the Court's view, this allowed the judge, rather than

133 S.Ct. 2157

the jury, to find this fact by a preponderance of evidence without violating the Constitution.

McMillan did not address whether legislatures' freedom to define facts as sentencing factors extended to findings that increased the maximum term of imprisonment for an offense. We foreshadowed an answer to this question in Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227, 243, n. 6, 119 S.Ct. 1215, 143 L.Ed.2d 311 (1999), but did not resolve the issue until Apprendi . There, we identified a concrete limit on the types of facts that legislatures may designate as sentencing factors.

570 U.S. 106

In Apprendi, the defendant was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment under a New Jersey statute that increased the maximum term of imprisonment from 10 years to 20 years if the trial judge found that the defendant committed his crime with racial bias. 530 U.S., at 470, 120 S.Ct. 2348. In defending its sentencing scheme, the State of New Jersey argued that, under McMillan, the legislature could define racial bias as a sentencing factor to be found by the judge. We declined to extend McMillan that far. We explained that there was no "principled basis for treating" a fact increasing the maximum term of imprisonment differently than the facts constituting the base offense. 530 U.S., at 476, 120 S.Ct. 2348. The historic link between crime and punishment, instead, led us to conclude that any fact that increased the prescribed statutory maximum sentence must be an " element" of the offense to be found by the jury. Id., at 483, n. 10, 490, 120 S.Ct. 2348. We, thus, found that Apprendi's sentence had been unconstitutionally enhanced by the judge's finding of racial bias by a preponderance of evidence. Id., at 491–492, 120 S.Ct. 2348.

B

While Apprendi only concerned a judicial finding that increased the statutory maximum, the logic of Apprendi prompted questions about the continuing vitality, if not validity, of McMillan 's holding that facts found to increase the mandatory minimum sentence are sentencing factors and not elements of the crime. We responded two years later in Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545, 122 S.Ct. 2406, 153 L.Ed.2d 524, where we considered the same statutory provision and the same question before us today.

In Harris, the defendant was charged, under § 924(c)(1)(A), with carrying a firearm in the course of committing a drug trafficking...

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