Appealed from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Sept. 2008)
Oral argument: Feb. 23, 2010
SENTENCE ENHANCEMENT, ELEMENTS OF A CRIME, SENTENCING FACTORS
Respondents, Arthur Burgess and Martin O’Brien, pled guilty to a variety of criminal charges, including possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. At sentencing, the judge determined that he could not apply a thirty-year mandatory minimum sentence because the government had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants had possessed an automatic weapon during the crime. Petitioner, the United States, contends the judge could have found possession by a preponderance of the evidence as a sentencing factor and applied the thirty-year sentence enhancement. Respondents, Burgess and O’Brien, argue that the government must prove possession to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt as an element of the crime.