Are Changes In Crimial Statues Which Do Not Alter the Definition of the Crime or Make the Punishment More Burdensome Ex Post Facto ?
The United States Supreme Court has held that changes in criminal statutes which do not alter the definition of the crime of which the defendant was convicted or make the punishment more burdensome are not ex post facto. See Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 52, 111 L. Ed. 2d 30, 110 S. Ct. 2715 (1990).
In Malloy v. South Carolina, 237 U.S. 180, 59 L. Ed. 905, 35 S. Ct. 507 (1915), the United States Supreme Court held that procedural changes in the method of execution did not constitute an ex post facto law even if applied to offenses committed prior to such law's enactment. See id. at 185.
The Court reasoned that:
The statute under consideration did not change the penalty--death--for murder, but only the mode of producing this together with certain non-essential details in respect of surroundings.
The punishment was not increased and some of the odious features incident to the old method were abated. Id. at 185.
Accordingly, the Court held that the amended law would not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause, even though the defendant committed the crime prior to the passage of the new law. See id. at 185.