Published on: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
In Burrage v. United States, decided yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the government must prove but-for causation under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) in order to trigger the 20-year mandatory minimum and increased statutory maximum for drug trafficking when "death or serious bodily injury results from the use" of the drug. The Court reversed Burrage's conviction for distributing heroin with "death resulting," as the government conceded that there is "no evidence that [the victim] would have lived but-for his heroin use." For an analysis of the opinion, see this SCOTUSblog post.