New Supreme Court Case on Supervised Release Revocation Hearings

June 26, 2019

In a decision by the Supreme Court yesterday, June 25, 2019, the Court declared a particular provision of the supervised release revocation process to be unconstitutional. (Davis v. Haymond, available here). The Court struck down the mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison when a person on supervised release is violated pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3583(k). Although we expect many calls from innumerable individuals currently incarcerated or on supervised release, this case, at present, has very limited applicability. The decision is (for now) narrow and only applies when the alleged violation involves evidence that they committed certain enumerated offense, including most sex offenses, when they are required to be sentenced for a mandatory minimum of 5 years. In other words , it does not apply to revocation hearings conducted pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3583(e), as most are, but only to those that involve 18 U.S.C. §3583(k). For now. The reason we say “for now” is that the majority did in fact write “Our opinion, does not pass judgment one way or the other on §3583(e)’s consistency with Apprendi,” and the dissenting opinion stated “Many statements and passages in the plurality opinion strongly suggest that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial applies to any supervised-release revocation proceeding.” We can only hope that the dissent is correct but only time and future cases will tell.