8th Amendment, Burdens, & Appeals Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in 8th Amendment, Burdens, & Appeals Deck (26)
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What is the 8th Amendment

Prohibits the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment, including torture or punishment that is grossly disproportional to the offense.


Does the 8th Amendment apply to states? 

Yes, incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment.


What qualifies as proportional under the 8th Amendment? 

  • Severity of the sentence is proportional to the crime (e.g. 25 years for $100 shoplifting charge is disproportional); and 
  • Sentence is similar to the sentences of other similarly situated criminals who have committed the same or similar crimes


Does applying a harsher sentence to a repeat offender violate the 8th Amendment?

No. SCOTUS has held that imposing greater penalties for repeat offenders (e.g. three-strike laws) is constitutional. Rummel v. Estelle


Can D be incarcerated solely for his inability to pay a fine? 

No, this is unconstitutional.


What types of crimes are eligible for the death penalty

Crimes that result in death or crimes against the state.


When is the death penalty unconstitutional?

  1. D was under 18 when the crime was committed (Roper v. Simmons)
  2. D lacks sufficient mental capacity to understand the imposition of a death sentence (Atkins v. Virginia); or
  3. Crime was felony murder AND either:
    • D was not a major participant; or
    • D was a major participant but did not act with a callous indifference to human life


Is a mandatory death penalty for specific crimes constitutional? 

No, mandatory death penalties are unconstitutional because they prevent the consideration of mitigating factorsEddings v. Oklahoma


What is required for the death penalty to be constitutional

  1. Death penalty statute is clear and unambiguous (Godfrey v. Georgia); 
  2. Statute provides a procedure for review that ensures death penalty is not arbitrary or discriminatory; and
  3. Jury is given opportunity to review mitigating factors (e.g. age, mental capacity); 
  4. Jury had the opportunity to find D guilty of a lesser-included offense; and
  5. Jury finds evidence of at least one aggravating circumstance


Is the death penalty unconstitutional if disproportionately used on one race?

No, as long as there is no discriminatory intent.

See McCleskey v. Kemp


Can a judge impose the death penalty?

Yes, either alone, or with the advisement of a jury, provided its imposition complies with all other constitutional requirements.

But, a sentencing judge (without a jury) may not find an aggravating circumstance necessary for the death penalty. (Ring v. Arizona)


Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee a right to a direct appeal of a conviction?

No, but when a state provides access to appeals, the Constitution requires that they are not granted in a discriminatory way. (Griffin v. Illinois)


What is the burden of proof in all criminal cases?

Prosection must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt


Who bears the burden of proving affirmative defenses

D. Generally, the prosecution must prove every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, D can have the burden to prove affirmative defenses (e.g. insanity, entrapment, duress, or self-defense)

⚠️ Note: Can either be proved by clear and convincing evidence or by a preponderance of the evidence standard. 


Who bears the burden of proving an alibi

The prosecution. An alibi is not an affirmative defense (in which D would have the burden), but something that negates an essential element of the crime. Therefore, the burden rests with the prosecution. 


writ of habeas corpus

Mechanism for a person to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. It is considered a collateral attack on the conviction, and is a separate legal proceeding.

The writ of habeas corpus is a civil challenge (not criminal), and there is no right to counsel.  


Can a person file a writ of habeas corpus when no longer in custody?

No, b/c writ of habeas corpus is challenging the lawfulness of the detention. Can only be filed while incarcerated, or on bail, probation, or parole.


Can a state prisoner bring a writ of habeas corpus only in federal court?

No, a prisoner must exhaust all state remedies before they filing a writ of habeas corpus in federal court


If a writ of habeas corpus is granted, and the prisoner released, can they be re-tried for the same crime?

Yes, Double Jeopardy does not apply 


double jeopardy

Under the 5th Amendment, D cannot be charged with the same crime, arising out of the same offense, once jeopardy has attached.  


In a bench trial, when does jeopardy attach?

When the first witness is sworn in


In a jury trial, when does jeopardy attach?

When the jury is sworn in


What constitutes the "same crime" for the purposes of double jeopardy? 

Blockburger test: Crimes are not the same if each crime contains an element not found in the other​. 

Ex. You can be charged with attempt, and later charged with conspiracy because both require proof of different elements

⭐️ This means that re-trying D for any lesser included or greater included offense is prohibited because they contain the same, core elements. 



What are the exceptions to Double Jeopardy (i.e. when can D be retried)? 

  1. Jury was unable to reach a verdict
  2. D violated plea agreement
  3. D was tried in a criminal court, and is being retried in a civil court (and vice vera); 
  4. Dual-sovereignty doctrine: 
    • D may be prosecuted for the same crime by a federal court and a state court
    • May be prosecuted for same crime by 2 different states 
  5. Mistrial for "manifest necessity;"  
  6. Retrial is after D's successful appeal on procedural grounds; and 
  7. Grand jury can retry D if another grand jury failed to return an indictment 



If there is newly discovered evidence, does Double Jeopardy prevent trying D for a greater included offense? 



Does Double Jeopardy prevent retrial if D was acquitted


Yes, but the acquittal must be a final verdict