Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227 (1999)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 97-6203. Argued October 5, 1998—Decided March 24, 1999

Petitioner was charged with, inter alia, carjacking, in violation of 18

U. S. C. 2119, which at the time provided, as relevant here, that a person possessing a firearm who "takes a motor vehicle . . . from the person or presence of another by force and violence or by intimidation . . . shall—(1) be . . . imprisoned not more than 15 years . . . , (2) if serious bodily injury . . . results, be . . . imprisoned not more than 25 years . . . , and (3) if death results, be . . . imprisoned for any number of years up to life . . . ." The indictment made no reference to 2119's numbered subsections and charged none of the facts mentioned in the latter two. Petitioner was told at the arraignment that he faced a maximum 15-year sentence for carjacking, and the jury instructions at his trial defined that offense by reference solely to 2119(1). After he was found guilty, however, the District Court imposed a 25-year sentence on the carjacking charge because one victim suffered serious bodily injury. The court rejected petitioner's objection that serious bodily injury was an element of the offense, which had been neither pleaded in the indictment nor proven before the jury. In affirming, the Ninth Circuit agreed that 2119(2) set out a sentencing factor, not an element of an independent offense.

Held: Section 2119 establishes three separate offenses by the specification of elements, each of which must be charged by indictment, proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and submitted to a jury for its verdict. Pp. 232-252.

(a) The superficial impression that 2119's subsections are only sentencing provisions loses clarity when one looks at subsections (2) and (3), which not only provide for steeply higher penalties, but condition them on further facts (injury, death) that seem quite as important as the elements in the principal paragraph (force, violence, intimidation). The Government stresses that the numbered subsections do not stand alone in defining offenses, most of whose elements are set out in the statute's opening paragraph, and that this integrated structure suggests that the statute establishes only a single offense. The Government also argues that the numbered subsections come after the word "shall," which often divides offense-defining provisions from those that specify sentences. A number of countervailing structural considerations, how-


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