US v. Booker is significant for two reasons. First, it made Federal Sentencing Guidelines advisory instead of mandatory. Second, it made the Sixth Amendment applicable to the Guidelines.
New York, NY (PRWEB) November 07, 2012
In the first installment of his Federal Sentencing Guidelines Awareness Campaign, New York Appellate Lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi is focusing on the seminal 2005 case US v. Booker.
“US v. Booker is significant for two reasons,” commented Stephen N. Preziosi, principal of the New York City-based Appellate Law Office of Stephen N. Preziosi, P.C. “First, it made Federal Sentencing Guidelines advisory instead of mandatory. Second, it made the Sixth Amendment applicable to the Guidelines.”
In US v. Booker, the accused in the case, Mr. Booker, was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Due to the amount of cocaine and his criminal past, he was expected to be sentenced from 210 to 262 months per Federal Sentencing Guidelines. However, the judge increased Mr. Booker’s sentence after concluding that, given the totality of the evidence, he possessed a larger quantity of cocaine than the amount determined by the jury.
On appeal, it was held that the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) were unconstitutional when applied on a mandatory basis. As such, they could only be advisory. Furthermore, any fact that is used to enhance a sentence beyond the statutory maximum must be proven before the jury or admitted to in a plea by the defendant.
“There are clear elements of U.S. Supreme Court cases Apprendi v. New Jersey 530 U.S. 466 (2000) and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004) in the holding,” commented Mr. Preziosi in his analysis of US v. Booker.
“In Apprendi, the Supreme Court concluded that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was breached when the judge exceeded Federal Sentencing Guidelines in a manner very similar to that of US v. Booker. And in Blakey, the Supreme Court held that the judge erred when he relied on an aggravating factor to exceed the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, despite the fact that it was not reflected in the jury’s verdict, or expressed in the defendant’s guilty plea.”
Ultimately, Mr. Preziosi points out that the appeal of US v. Booker confirmed the fundamental fact that Federal Sentencing Guidelines must be allowed to function in a manner that is aligned with congressional intent and is consistent with the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.
“Defendants who are convicted of a crime may have their liberties and freedoms restricted as per our system of justice, but they retain their fundamental constitutional rights with respect to sentencing,” commented Mr. Preziosi. “US v. Booker established that U.S.S.G.'s can only be advisory and not mandatory. And while that gives the courts the freedom to reduce or increase a sentence in light of statutory concerns, they cannot unilaterally exceed the statutory maximum, and any fact used to enhance a sentence must be proven before a jury or admitted by the defendant during the plea. Anything else compromises the integrity of our justice system, which is something that cannot be tolerated.”
Mr. Preziosi’s full analysis of US v. Booker is available on his firm’s website at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com/reviewing-the-booker-case-sentencing-guidelines-are-advisory-not-mandatory/.
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About the Appellate Law Office of Stephen N. Preziosi, P.C.
The Law office of Stephen N. Preziosi handles criminal appeals in all U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and in New York State Appellate Courts (including Appellate Divisions and the New York Court of Appeals). Whether a case is under the Penal Law in New York State Courts or under Federal Law in the U.S. District Courts, Mr. Preziosi has extensive experience with all types of appellate matters in both the New York State Courts and the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. Mr. Preziosi has pursued appellate cases in the Appellate Divisions, the Appellate Terms and the highest court in the State of New York, the New York Court of Appeals. He has also taken on cases in the various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and successfully identified legal issues, designed and written briefs and conducted oral argument. The firm’s practice is concentrated in the area of appeals in criminal matters in both State and Federal Courts. Learn more at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com.