Cunningham V. California

Cunningham v. California, 549 U.S. 270 (2007), held that the rule first announced in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), applies to California's Determinate Sentencing Law. In California, a judge may choose one of three sentences for a crime—a low, middle, or high term. There must exist specific aggravating factors about the crime before a judge may impose the high term. Under the Apprendi rule, as explained in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), any fact that increases the punishment above that which the judge may impose without that fact must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. In People v. Black, the California Supreme Court rejected the argument that under Blakely, the jury must find the additional facts necessary for the judge to impose the high term under the DSL. In Cunningham, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Black, ruling that Blakely applies to California's determinate sentencing scheme.

Read more about Cunningham V. California:  Facts, California's Determinate Sentencing Law, Majority Opinion, Dissenting Opinion, Effect of The Decision

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