United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148, 4 (1997) (per curiam)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Cite as: 519 U. S. 148 (1997)

Per Curiam

of the evidence that Putra had indeed been involved in the May 9 transaction. The District Court explained that the second sale was relevant conduct under USSG 1B1.3, and it therefore calculated Putra's base offense level under the Guidelines by aggregating the amounts of both sales. As in Watts, the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded for resentencing. Reasoning that the jury's verdict of acquittal manifested an "explicit rejection" of Putra's involvement in the May 9 transaction, the Court of Appeals held that "allowing an increase in Putra's sentence would be effectively punishing her for an offense for which she has been acquitted." 78 F. 3d, at 1389. The panel explained that it was imposing "a judicial limitation on the facts the district court may consider at sentencing, beyond any limitation imposed by the Guidelines." Ibid. Then-Chief Judge Wallace dissented, arguing that the panel's "sweeping language contradicts the Guidelines, our practice prior to enactment of the Guidelines, decisions of other circuits, and recent Supreme Court authority." Id., at 1390.

We begin our analysis with 18 U. S. C. 3661, which codifies the longstanding principle that sentencing courts have broad discretion to consider various kinds of information. The statute states:

"No limitation shall be placed on the information concerning the background, character, and conduct of a person convicted of an offense which a court of the United States may receive and consider for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence."

We reiterated this principle in Williams v. New York, 337 U. S. 241 (1949), in which a defendant convicted of murder and sentenced to death challenged the sentencing court's reliance on information that the defendant had been involved in 30 burglaries of which he had not been convicted. We contrasted the different limitations on presentation of evidence at trial and at sentencing: "Highly relevant—if not es-

151

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007