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MULLANEY V. WILBUR, 421 U. S. 684 (1975)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684 (1975)

Mullaney v. Wilbur

No. 74-13

Argued January 15, 1975

Decided June 9, 1975

421 U.S. 684


The State of Maine requires a defendant charged with murder, which upon conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, to prove that he acted in the heat of passion on sudden provocation in order to reduce the homicide to manslaughter, in which case the punishment is a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 20 years.

Held: The Maine rule does not comport with the requirement of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged, In re Winship, 397 U. S. 358. To satisfy that requirement, the prosecution in a homicide case in Maine must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the absence of the heat of passion on sudden provocation when the issue is properly presented. Pp. 421 U. S. 691-704.

496 F.2d 1303, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. REHNQUIST, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,joined, post, p. 421 U. S. 704.

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