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NCJ Number: 126441 Find in a Library
Title: Sentence Enhancement Based on Unconstitutional Prior Convictions
Journal: New York University Law Review  Volume:64  Issue:6  Dated:(December 1989)  Pages:1373-1415
Author(s): D B King
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 43
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Some courts of appeals have forbidden the use for sentence enhancement purposes of prior convictions tainted by constitutional violations other than the right to counsel. However, significant disagreement among the courts of appeals persists concerning the specific types of constitutional violations.
Abstract: The use for sentence enhancement purposes of prior convictions invalid on grounds directly related to factual accuracy should be prohibited because such use would violate due process and contravene the policies underlying criminal sentencing. With regard to prior convictions unconstitutional on grounds not directly related to the ascertainment of factual guilt, the argument for permitting enhancement use is strong. Such convictions are, after all, reliable indicators of past criminality. However, the use of such convictions would compromise judicial integrity. It is extremely difficult to discern whether a given constitutional defect does or does not bear on the ascertainment of factual guilt. Consequently, prior convictions tainted by constitutional defects which do not undermine factual accuracy should not be used for sentence enhancement. 275 notes
Main Term(s): Sentencing disparity
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Federal criminal justice system; Recidivists; US Supreme Court decisions
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