Judicial Found Facts Cannot Increase Mandatory Minimums

In United States v. Alleyne, a jury convicted Alleyne of “using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.” Based on the Government’s choice of the “use” or “carry” verbs found in this prong of §924(c), Alleyne faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years up to life imprisonment. However, at sentencing, the district court judge found that Alleyne’s conduct was more consistent with “brandishing,” which increased the mandatory minimum sentence to 7 years.

Today, the United States Supreme Court extended its ruling in Apprendi and held that judicial fact-finding increasing the mandatory minimum sentence violates the Sixth Amendment. In short, after Alleyne and Apprendi, any fact increasing either the mandatory minimum or the maximum sentence for a crime charged by the grand jury must be found by a petit jury beyond a reasonable doubt.