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Supreme Court of the United States
December 9, 1998, Argued ; April 5, 1999, Decided
[*316] [***430] [**1309] JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.
Two questions relating to a criminal defendant's Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination are presented to us. The first is whether, in the federal criminal system, a guilty plea waives the privilege in the sentencing phase of the case, either as a result of the colloquy preceding the plea or by operation of law when the plea is entered. We hold the plea is not a waiver of the privilege at sentencing. The second question is whether, in determining facts [*317] about the crime which bear upon the severity of the sentence, a trial court may draw an adverse inference from the defendant's silence. We hold a sentencing court may not draw the adverse inference.
Petitioner Amanda Mitchell and 22 other defendants were indicted for offenses arising from a conspiracy to distribute cocaine in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from 1989 to 1994. According to the indictment, [****8] the leader of the conspiracy, Harry Riddick, obtained large quantities of cocaine and resold the drug through couriers and street sellers, including petitioner. Petitioner was charged [**1310] with one count of conspiring to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and with three counts of distributing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school or playground, in violation of § 860(a). In 1995, without any plea agreement, petitioner pleaded guilty to all four counts. She reserved the right to contest the drug quantity attributable to her under the conspiracy count, and the District Court advised her the drug quantity would be determined at her sentencing hearing.
Before accepting the plea, the District Court made the inquiries required by Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Informing petitioner of the penalties for her offenses, the District Judge advised her, "the range of punishment here is very complex because we don't know how much cocaine the Government's going to be able to show you were involved in." App. 39. The judge told petitioner she faced a mandatory minimum [****9] of one year in prison under § 860 for distributing cocaine near a school or playground. She also faced "serious punishment depending on the quantity involved" for the conspiracy, with a mandatory minimum [***431] of 10 years in prison under § 841 if she could be held responsible for at least 5 kilograms but less than 15 kilograms of cocaine. Id. at 42. By pleading guilty, the District Court explained, [*318] petitioner would waive various rights, including "the right at trial to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment." Id. at 45.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
526 U.S. 314 *; 119 S. Ct. 1307 **; 143 L. Ed. 2d 424 ***; 1999 U.S. LEXIS 2348 ****; 67 U.S.L.W. 4230; 99 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2468; 99 Daily Journal DAR 3241; 1999 Colo. J. C.A.R. 1931; 12 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 186
AMANDA MITCHELL, PETITIONER v. UNITED STATES
Prior History: [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT.
Disposition: 122 F.3d 185, reversed and remanded.
sentencing, silence, adverse inference, guilty plea, criminal case, district court, self-incrimination, cocaine, sentencing phase, guilt, sentencing hearing, proceedings, quantity, remain silent, cross-examination, incrimination, questions, plea colloquy, purposes, phase, waive, waiver of the privilege, codefendant, cooperate, suggests, drawing, invoke, justice of the peace, failure to testify, determining facts
Evidence, Privileges, Self-Incrimination Privilege, Elements, Criminal Law & Procedure, Defendant's Rights, Right to Remain Silent, Self-Incrimination Privilege, Trials, Examination of Witnesses, Cross-Examination, General Overview, Waiver, Examination, Cross-Examinations, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Preliminary Proceedings, Entry of Pleas, Guilty Pleas, Knowing & Intelligent Requirement, Voluntariness, Scientific Evidence, Bodily Evidence, Toxicology, Jury Instructions, Particular Instructions, Adverse Inferences, Allocution & Colloquy, Standards of Review, Harmless & Invited Error, Allocution & Colloquy, Waiver of Defenses, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Burdens of Proof, Prosecution, Capital Punishment, Cruel & Unusual Punishment, Corrections, Modifications & Reductions, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Prisoner Rights, Discipline, Postconviction Proceedings, Clemency, Imprisonment, Sentencing Guidelines, Adjustments & Enhancements, Acceptance of Responsibility