Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545, 9 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 545 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

all minimum and "certainly adds no further element." Ibid. Subsections (ii) and (iii), in turn, increase the minimum penalty if certain facts are present, and those subsections do not repeat the elements from the principal paragraph.

When a statute has this sort of structure, we can presume that its principal paragraph defines a single crime and its subsections identify sentencing factors. But even if a statute "has a look to it suggesting that the numbered subsections are only sentencing provisions," id., at 232, the text might provide compelling evidence to the contrary. This was illustrated by the Court's decision in Jones, in which the federal carjacking statute, which had a similar structure, was interpreted as setting out the elements of multiple offenses.

The critical textual clues in this case, however, reinforce the single-offense interpretation implied by the statute's structure. Tradition and past congressional practice, for example, were perhaps the most important guideposts in Jones. The fact at issue there—serious bodily injury—is an element in numerous federal statutes, including two on which the car-jacking statute was modeled; and the Jones Court doubted that Congress would have made this fact a sentencing factor in one isolated instance. Id., at 235-237; see also Castillo, supra, at 126-127; Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U. S. 224, 230 (1998). In contrast, there is no similar federal tradition of treating brandishing and discharging as offense elements. In Castillo v. United States, supra, the Court singled out brandishing as a paradigmatic sentencing factor: "Traditional sentencing factors often involve . . . special features of the manner in which a basic crime was carried out (e. g., that the defendant . . . brandished a gun)." Id., at 126. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, moreover, brandishing and discharging affect the sentences for numerous federal crimes. See, e. g., United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual 2A2.2(b)(2), 2B3.1(b)(2), 2B3.2(b)(3)(A), 2E2.1(b)(1), 2L1.1(b)(4) (Nov. 2001). Indeed, the Guidelines appear to have been the only antecedents for the statute's


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