Nonjury Juvenile Adjudications as Prior Convictions Under Apprendi

Under the recent Supreme Court decision of Apprendi v. New Jersey, a fact that potentially increases the punishment for a crime above the statu-torily prescribed maximum must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury. However, the Apprendi Court crafted an exception to this rule for prior convictions. This note analyzes conflicting case law regarding the proper scope of the “prior conviction” exception and, specifically, whether nonjury juvenile adjudications should be covered by the excep-tion.In doing this, the note first examines the “flexible” nature of procedural due process as applicable to criminal trials and juvenile adjudications. The note then reviews Apprendi along with two other Supreme Court de-cisions as a means of understanding the policies underlying the “prior conviction” exception. The author ultimately argues that both the poli-cies behind the prior conviction exception and a faithful interpretation of Supreme Court precedent weigh in favor of nonjury juvenile adjudica-tions falling within the exception.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.