Saturday, July 25, 2009
Recent United States Supreme Court Sentencing Case and Courts of Appeals in Ohio
Recently the United States Supreme Court came out with a decision (Oregon v. Ice) that was an attempt to further clarify an area of sentencing law that has plagued the courts for almost a decade. What can trial court judges take into consideration when they are sentencing a person for a plea or a conviction? One continuing constitutional theory (started by two United States Supreme Court cases of Apprendi v. New Jersey and Blakely v. Washington) is that if there are facts that will increase a sentence, then the due process clause of the United States Constitution requires that a jury also find those facts beyond a reasonable doubt as well. For instance, if a defendant is found guilty of a theft, and the judge may sentence the defendant for more time if the theft involved an elderly person, then the law is that a jury must find that the case involved an elderly person before the judge imposes that additional time. Oregon v. Ice was an attempt to clarify this issue further. That case allowed a trial court to impose “consecutive” sentences (when a defendant is found guilty of more than one offense) even if the jury did not make a legal or factual determination about the factor that the judge used to impose the consecutive sentence.