United States V. Booker

United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), was a United States Supreme Court decision concerning criminal sentencing. The Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial requires that, other than a prior conviction, only facts admitted by a defendant or proved beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury may be used to calculate a sentence, whether the defendant has pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. The maximum sentence a judge may impose is a sentence based upon the facts admitted by the defendant or proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a split but majority ruling, the Court struck down the provision of the federal sentencing statute that required federal district judges to impose a sentence within the Federal Guidelines range, along with the provision that deprived federal appeals courts of the power to review sentences imposed outside the Guidelines range. The Court instructed federal district judges to impose a sentence with reference to a wider range of sentencing factors set forth in the federal sentencing statute, and directed federal appeals courts to review criminal sentences for "reasonableness," which the Court left undefined.

This ruling was the direct consequence of the Court's ruling six months earlier in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), in which the Court had imposed the same requirement on a guidelines sentencing scheme employed in the State of Washington. The Blakely decision arose out of Apprendi v. New Jersey in which the Court held that, except for the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the defendant's punishment above the statutory maximum punishment had to be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Read more about United States V. Booker:  Decision, Freddie Joe Booker, Criticism

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