Sixth Amendment Sentencing after Hurst

69 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2018

See all articles by Carissa Byrne Hessick

Carissa Byrne Hessick

University of North Carolina School of Law

William W. Berry III

University of Mississippi School of Law

Date Written: February 28, 2018


The Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Hurst v. Florida, which struck down Florida’s capital sentencing scheme, altered the Court’s Sixth Amendment sentencing doctrine. That doctrine has undergone several important changes since it was first recognized. At times the doctrine has expanded—invalidating sentencing practices across the country—and at times it has contracted—allowing restrictions on judicial sentencing discretion based on findings that are not submitted to a jury. Hurst represents another expansion of the doctrine. Although the precise scope of the decision is unclear, the most sensible reading of Hurst suggests that any finding required before a judge may impose a higher sentence must be submitted to a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This reading invalidates several state capital sentencing systems and several non-capital systems, and it would require dramatic changes to federal sentencing as well.

Keywords: jury trial, sentencing, Sixth Amendment, Apprendi, Supreme Court

Suggested Citation

Hessick, Carissa Byrne and Berry III, William W., Sixth Amendment Sentencing after Hurst (February 28, 2018). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 66, 2018 Forthcoming, UNC Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

Carissa Byrne Hessick (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States

William W. Berry III

University of Mississippi School of Law ( email )

481 Chucky Mullins Drive
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677
United States
6629156859 (Phone)

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