Archives : 2007 : January
In January 2007, the United States Supreme Court struck down a California sentencing law that allow judgesrather than juriesto impose longer prison terms based on aggravating circumstances. The ruling, which said that the law violates the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, marked the most recent in a series of similar rulings since 2000 and has far reaching implications for state and federal governments as well as for those who have been convicted and/or accused of a crime.
The attorneys of Imhoff & Associates know the law and are committed to safeguarding the constitutional rights of those who have been charged with a crime. If youre facing criminal charges or have been convicted of a crime and feel your rights were violated, please contact us today for a FREE case evaluation with a respected and proven criminal defense attorney.
Cunningham v. California
The Supreme Court ruling was based on a case involving a police officer convicted in 2003 of molesting his young son. California sentencing laws dictate that individuals convicted of sexually abusing a child under the age of 14 automatically receive a prison term of six, 12, or 16 yearsdepending on aggravating facts or circumstances. The judge who ruled in the original criminal case found five aggravating circumstances and consequently sentenced the man to the maximum 16 years.
Right to a Jury Trial
The Sixth Amendment guarantees U.S. citizens the right to a trial by jury, and it is the jury, not the judge, who must determine whether or not to increase penalties based on aggravating facts. Further, juries must carefully weigh those facts to determine whether or not they meet the reasonable doubt standard.
According to the Supreme Court decision, it is not within a judges power to impose stricter sentences based on aggravating circumstances that have not been found by a jury and have not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, the attorneys and legal staff at Imhoff & Associates can help. We can evaluate your case, develop a defense strategy, and work vigorously to ensure that you dont face excessively harsh or undue punishment.
Please contact us today for a no-cost consultation with an aggressive criminal defense attorney who can ensure that your legal rights are protected and help you plan a course of action.
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