Sandstrom v. Montana

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Sandstrom v. Montana
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued April 18, 1979
Decided June 18, 1979
Full case nameDavid Sandstrom v. Montana
Docket no.78-5384
Citations442 U.S. 510 (more)
99 S. Ct. 2450; 61 L. Ed. 2d 39
The Fourteenth Amendment requires that a state must prove every element of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and may not shift the burden of proof to the defendant by means of a presumption of intent.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun · Lewis F. Powell Jr.
William Rehnquist · John P. Stevens
Case opinions
ConcurrenceRehnquist, joined by Burger

Sandstrom v. Montana, 442 U.S. 510 (1979), is a United States Supreme Court case that reaffirmed the prosecution's burden of proof of the mental element of a crime by striking down a jury instruction that "the law presumes that a person intends the ordinary consequences of his voluntary acts".[1] In Francis v. Franklin, 471 U.S. 307 (1985), Justice Brennan wrote about "Sandstrom and the wellspring due process principal from which it is drawn" as follows:

Sandstrom v. Montana made clear that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a State from making use of jury instructions that have the effect of relieving the State of the burden of proof on the critical question of intent in a criminal prosecution.


  1. ^ Criminal Law Cases and Materials, Seventh Edition, 2012; John Kaplan, Robert Weisberg, Guyora Binder

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