Opinion of Kennedy, J.
than the findings at issue in Apprendi. This is so because when a fact increasing the statutory maximum is found, the judge may still impose a sentence far below that maximum; but when a fact increasing the minimum is found, the judge has no choice but to impose that minimum, even if he or she otherwise would have chosen a lower sentence. Cf. Almendarez-Torres, 523 U. S., at 244-245. Why, petitioner asks, would fairness not also require the latter sort of fact to be alleged in the indictment and found by the jury under a reasonable-doubt standard? The answer is that because it is beyond dispute that the judge's choice of sentences within the authorized range may be influenced by facts not considered by the jury, a factual finding's practical effect cannot by itself control the constitutional analysis. The Fifth and Sixth Amendments ensure that the defendant "will never get more punishment than he bargained for when he did the crime," but they do not promise that he will receive "any-thing less" than that. Apprendi, supra, at 498 (Scalia, J., concurring). If the grand jury has alleged, and the trial jury has found, all the facts necessary to impose the maximum, the barriers between government and defendant fall. The judge may select any sentence within the range, based on facts not alleged in the indictment or proved to the jury— even if those facts are specified by the legislature, and even if they persuade the judge to choose a much higher sentence than he or she otherwise would have imposed. That a fact affects the defendant's sentence, even dramatically so, does not by itself make it an element.
In light of the foregoing, it is not surprising that the decisions for the Court in both Apprendi and Jones insisted that they were consistent with McMillan—and that a distinction could be drawn between facts increasing the defendant's minimum sentence and facts extending the sentence beyond the statutory maximum. See, e. g., Apprendi, supra, at 494, n. 19 ("The term [sentencing factor] appropriately describes a circumstance, which may be either aggravating or mitigat-Page: Index Previous 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007