Jenner & Block

Client Alert: Supreme Court Rules in Southern Union v. United States that Jury Must Find Facts that Increase Maximum Fines in Criminal Cases

In a 6-3 opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court held yesterday that the Apprendi rule extends to facts that increase the maximum fines in criminal cases.  Apprendi held that “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum,” other than a prior conviction, must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Apprendi v. New Jersey,530 U.S. 466 (2000).  In so ruling, the Court rejected the government’s argument that Apprendi does not apply to criminal fines because they do not implicate Apprendi’s “core concerns,” namely the deprivation of life and liberty.