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Jury: Legal Aspects - The Scope Of The Right

extend defendant trial sentence

The Sixth Amendment right to jury trial does not extend to petty offenses. Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66 (1970), held, however, that "no offense can be deemed 'petty' . . . where imprisonment for more than six months is authorized." An offense punishable by less than six months' imprisonment is presumed to be petty, but sanctions other than imprisonment may be sufficiently severe to remove the crime from the petty offense category (Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, 489 U.S. 538 (1989)). Many states extend the right to jury trial farther than the Constitution requires. In California, even a defendant charged with a traffic offense may demand a jury trial.

McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971), held that the right to jury trial does not extend to juvenile delinquency proceedings, which are nominally "civil" rather than "criminal" in character. The right also does not extend to sexual psychopath proceedings and to suits by the government to collect civil penalties.

A defendant has no right to jury trial in most sentencing proceedings (see Spaziano v. Florida, 468 U.S. 447 (1984)). Nevertheless, the Supreme Court held in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000), that when the determination of a fact other than prior criminal record would extend a defendant's maximum term of imprisonment, the defendant is entitled to have that fact determined by a jury. Whether Apprendi will remain limited to cases in which a factual determination would extend the defendant's maximum sentence (rather than the mandatory minimum sentence, the sentence dictated by sentencing guidelines, or the actual sentence) is certain to be the subject of further litigation.

Jury: Legal Aspects - Jury Size [next] [back] Jury: Legal Aspects - Origins

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