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2001

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Criminal law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Essential Elements, Nancy J. King, Susan Riva Klein Jan 2001

Essential Elements, Nancy J. King, Susan Riva Klein

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The Court has struggled for well over a century with the issue of who has final authority to define what is a "crime" for purposes of applying procedural protections guaranteed by the Constitution in criminal cases. Just as labeling an action "civil" may allow the government to circumvent constitutional criminal procedure entirely, so labeling a fact an "affirmative defense" or a "sentencing factor" instead of an element of the offense may allow the government to escape constitutional criminal procedure selectively, bypassing the burden of proof, pleading, and jury requirements that would otherwise apply to an offense element. In its decision ...