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When a federal jury convicts on some charges and acquits on others, do not cheer before sentencing

Jun 29, 2010 When a federal jury convicts on some charges and acquits on others, do not cheer before sentencing

In federal court, when a jury convicts on some charges and acquits on others, at sentencing the judge still must determine whether the acquitted conduct was proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

This point was driven home yesterday, when the Fourth Circuit remanded a drug sentencing, saying the trial judge “erred by viewing the jury’s drug-quantity determination as precluding the court from finding a higher quantity for sentencing purposes,” so long as the sentence was within the forty-year maximum permitted by the jury’s quantity determination. U.S. v. Young, ___ F.3d ___    (4th Cir., June 28, 2010).

This Young case and the separate sovereigns doctrine are examples of why federal court often is no picnic for criminal defense.

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