Stogner v. California, 539 U.S. 607, 6 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

Chase divided ex post facto laws into categories that he described in two alternative ways. See 529 U. S., at 522-524, and n. 9. He wrote:

"I will state what laws I consider ex post facto laws, within the words and the intent of the prohibition. 1st. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2d. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3d. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence, in order to convict the offender. All these, and similar laws, are manifestly unjust and oppressive." Calder, supra, at 390-391 (emphasis altered from original).

In his alternative description, Chase traced these four categories back to Parliament's earlier abusive acts, as follows:

Category 1: "Sometimes they respected the crime, by declaring acts to be treason, which were not treason, when committed."

Category 2: "[A]t other times they inflicted punishments, where the party was not, by law, liable to any punishment."

Category 3: "[I]n other cases, they inflicted greater punishment, than the law annexed to the offence." Category 4: "[A]t other times, they violated the rules of evidence (to supply a deficiency of legal proof) by admitting one witness, when the existing law required two; by receiving evidence without oath; or the oath of the wife against the husband; or other testimony, which the courts of justice would not admit." 3 Dall., at 389 (emphasis altered from original).

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