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Supreme Court of Michigan
July 29, 2019, Filed
[**215] [*608] BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH
In this case, we consider whether a sentencing judge can sentence a defendant for a crime of which the defendant was acquitted.
That the question seems odd foreshadows its answer. But to explain the question first: Once a jury acquits a defendant of a given crime, may the judge, [*609] notwithstanding that acquittal, take the same alleged crime into consideration when sentencing the defendant for another crime of which the defendant was convicted? Such a possibility presents itself when a defendant is charged with multiple crimes. The jury speaks, convicting on some charges and acquitting on others. At sentencing for the former, a judge might seek to increase the defendant's sentence (under the facts of this case, severely increase, though we consider the question in principle) because the judge believes that the defendant really committed one or more of the crimes on which the jury acquitted.
Probably [***2] committed, that is: A judge in such circumstances might reason that although the jury acquitted on some charges, the jury acquitted because the state failed to prove guilt on those charges [**216] beyond a reasonable doubt. But the jury might have thought it was somewhat likely the defendant committed them. Or the judge, presiding over the trial, might reach that conclusion. And so during sentencing, when a judge may consider the defendant's uncharged bad acts under a lower standard—a mere preponderance of the evidence—the judge might impose a sentence reflecting both the crimes on which the jury convicted, and also those on which the jury acquitted but which the judge finds the defendant more likely than not did anyway. Is that permissible?
We hold that the answer is no. Once acquitted of a given crime, it violates due process to sentence the defendant as if he committed that very same crime.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
504 Mich. 605 *; 939 N.W.2d 213 **; 2019 Mich. LEXIS 1298 ***; 2019 WL 3422585
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee, v ERIC LAMONTEE BECK, Defendant-Appellant.
Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by, Motion granted by Michigan v. Beck, 206 L. Ed. 2d 240, 2020 U.S. LEXIS 984 (U.S., Feb. 24, 2020)
Prior History: People v. Beck, 2015 Mich. App. LEXIS 2113 (Mich. Ct. App., Nov. 17, 2015)
sentencing, acquitted, trial court, beyond a reasonable doubt, preponderance of evidence, due process, charges, convicted, murder, guidelines, presumption of innocence, felon-in-possession, jury nullification, violates, sentencing factor, juries, imprisonment, due-process, sentencing court, impose sentence, uncharged, maximum, killed, guilt, element of a crime, punished, convicted offense, minimum sentence, judge-found, offenses
Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Criminal Law & Procedure, Trials, Defendant's Rights, Right to Due Process, Bill of Rights, State Application, Sentencing, Sentencing Guidelines, Adjustments & Enhancements, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Conclusions of Law, Imposition of Sentence, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Prosecution