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Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, Nev

    Brief Fact Summary. The Supreme Court of the United States decided the necessity of jury trials for DUI.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. “A defendant is entitled to jury trial [when charged with a petty offense] on if he can demonstrate that any additional statutory penalties, viewed in conjunction with the maximum authorized period of incarceration, are so sever that they clearly reflect a legislative determination that the offense in question is a ‘serious’ one.”

    Facts. Nevada law authorized a maximum sentence of six months for persons found guilty of DUI, or 48 hours of community service in the alternative.

    Issue. “[W]hether there is a constitutional right to a trial by jury for person charged under Nevada law wit driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).”

    Held. No. The Supreme Court first distinguished between “petty” crimes and “serious” ones. Based on Baldwin v. New York, the Supreme Court that “defendant is entitled to a jury trial whenever the offense for which he is charged carries a maximum authorized prison term of greater than six months.” Although the Supreme Court did not hold that “an offense carrying a maximum prison term of six months or less automatically qualifies as a ‘petty’ offense,” it was willing to presume that the Nevada “views DUI as a ‘petty’ offense” in light of the fact that the “Nevada Legislature has clearly indicated that DUI is a ‘serious’ offense.” Other penalties, such as the 90-day license suspension, would run “concurrently” with the main penalty, and were “irrelevant”.

    Discussion. “This [above] standard.


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