Criminal Laws Which Cannot Be Applied to Conduct Prior to Their Effective Dates
In Carmell v. Texas (2000), the majority held that four categories of laws contravene ex post facto principles and cannot be applied to conduct that occurred prior to their effective dates.
The majority catalogued the four categories as:
(1) a law that makes criminal and punishes an action done before the passing of the law that was innocent when done;
(2) a law that aggravates a crime or makes it greater than it was when it was committed;
(3) a law that changes the punishment for a crime and inflicts greater punishment than provided at the time of commission;
(4) a law that alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of commission of the offense in order to convict the offender. (Id. at pp. 513-514 120 S. Ct. at pp. 1622-1623 Rptr. of Decisions Syllabus; not part of opn..)
The majority initially recognized that prior cases such as Collins v. Youngblood (1990) 497 U.S. 37 110 S. Ct. 2715, 111 L. Ed. 2d 30, had been "rather cryptic" about whether the fourth category was really prohibited by ex post facto principles.
The majority then concluded that the fourth category had not been "cast out" as part of the ex post facto doctrine and was still a viable category that defined a prohibited class of laws from operating retroactively. (Carmell v. Texas, supra, 529 U.S. at pp. 514, 537-538 120 S. Ct. at pp. 1623 Rptr. of Decisions Syllabus; not part of opn., 1635.)
In Carmell, the court was presented with a Texas statute that originally required corroboration of a victim of a sexual offense if the victim was 14 years old or older at the time of the offense.
The statute was amended after the date of the alleged offense to require corroboration only where the victim was 18 years old or older at the time of the offense.
The victim in Carmell was over 14 but under 18 at the time of some of the offenses, and there was no corroboration as to those alleged offenses.
The majority found that the effect of the amendment was to reduce the amount of evidence needed for a finding of guilt.
The majority determined that reducing the quantum of evidence required for a conviction was unfair and unjust.
The majority noted that there is a fundamental fairness interest in having the government abide by the rules of law it establishes to govern the circumstances under which it can deprive a person of his or her liberty. (Carmell v. Texas, supra, 529 U.S. at p. 514 120 S. Ct. at p. 1623 Rptr. of Decisions Syllabus; not part of opn..)
The majority stated that when a prosecutor's case is insufficient and the defendant is entitled to an acquittal, to change the rules to allow less evidence in order to convict the defendant constitutes an ex post facto violation. (Id. at p. 530 120 S. Ct. at p. 1631.)