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Burgess v. United States

Docket No.: 06-11429
Certiorari Granted: Dec 7 2007
Argued: March 24, 2008
Decided: April 16, 2008

Topic:

21 U.S.C. 841

PartyNames: Keith Lavon Burgess v. United States
Petitioner: Keith Lavon Burgess
Respondent: United States

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Keith Lavon Burgess
v.
United States
553 U.S. 124 (2008)
Question Presented:

1. Whether the term "felony drug offense" as used in federal statute requiring imposition of enhanced mandatory minimum 20 years' imprisonment when drug offender has "prior conviction for a felony drug offense" must be read in pari materia with federal statutes defining both "felony" and "felony drug offense", so as to require imposition of minimum 20--year sentence only if prior drug conviction is both punishable by more than one year in prison and characterized as a felony by controlling law.2. When the court finds that a criminal statute is ambiguous, must it then turn to rule of lenity to resolve ambiguity?

Question:

Did the Fourth Circuit err in determining that Burgess' sentencing hike for a drug distribution charge was sufficiently mandated by 21 U.S.C. Section 841(b)(1)(A), which requires such a hike for individuals with prior felony drug convictions regardless of length of imprisonment, when another federal statute, 21 U.S.C. Section 802, requires that a felony drug offense be "punishable by imprisonment for more than a year"?

Holding: affirmed
Decision: Decision: 9 votes for United States, 0 vote(s) against
Vote: 9-0
Opinion By:
Read BURGESS V. UNITED STATES opinion (PDF)

Other Resources for Burgess v. United States:
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