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Oregon high court allows jury resentencing based on aggravating circumstances

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Oregon [official website] has ruled that juries may retroactively resentence as many as 300-400 criminal defendants based on aggravating circumstances, such as the use of a gun, breach of trust, or racial motivation. In three decisions released Friday - State v. Upton [text], State v. Sawatzky [text], and State v. Heilman [text] - the Court held that juries may issue longer sentences than the mandatory minimums based on aggravating factors proven either during the trial stage where guilt is determined or afterwards, and also held that resentencing does not violate the principle of "double jeopardy," but rather is a continuation of the initial trial. These decision clarify the sentencing process in the wake of the 2004 Supreme Court decision in Blakely v. Washington [syllabus] where the Court ruled 5-4 that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial prohibits judges from lengthening criminal sentences based on facts other than those decided by a jury. From Salem, Monday's Statesman Journal has more.

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