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UNITED STATES v. O'BRIEN

Docket No.: 08-1569
Certiorari Granted: Sep 30 2009
Argued: February 23, 2010
Decided: May 24, 2010

Topics:

Armed Career Criminal Act, Due Process, Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Sixth Amendment, sentencing guidelines

PartyNames: United States v. Martin O'Brien and Arthur Burgess
Petitioner: United States
Respondent: Martin O'Brien and Arthur Burgess

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Citation: 542 F.3d 921

United States
v.
Martin O'Brien and Arthur Burgess
Question Presented:

:flOmega Section 924(c)(1) of Title 18 of the United States Code provides for a series of escalating mandatory minimum sentences depending on the manner in which the basic crime (viz., using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to an underlying offense, or possessing the firearm in furtherance of that offense) is carried out. The question presented is whether the sentence enhancement to a 30-year minimum when the firearm is a machinegun is an element of the offense that must be charged and proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, or instead a sentencing factor that may be found by a judge by the preponderance of the evidence.

Question:

Is the sentencing enhancement for use of a firearm that is a machine gun under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) an element of the crime that must be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt" to a jury or a mere sentencing factor that may be found by a judge "by a preponderance of the evidence?"

UNITED STATES v. O'BRIEN
ORAL ARGUMENT

February 23, 2010

Holding: affirmed
Vote: 9-0
Opinion By: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
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