The defendant was tried for conspiracy and murder. He presented evidence to the jury that he had ended his participation in the ongoing conspiracy and that the statute of limitations had closed off the government’s prosecution on those grounds. The defendant then asserted that the burden of proof shifted to the government to disprove his affirmative defense.
Whether placing the burden of proof of a withdrawal on the defendant is a violation of his due process rights?
No. Due process does not require the government to disprove the absence of any possible affirmative defense that might be employed.
The Court simply dismissed the defendant’s position by stating that “[A]llocating to a defendant the burden of proving withdrawal does not violate the Due Process Clause.” The government “must prove beyond a reasonable doubt” every element of a crime, but once it has done so, “[p]roof of the nonexistence of all affirmative defenses has never been constitutionally required,” citing Patterson v. New York, 432 U.S. 197 (1977). The Court refused to extend such a rule in this case.
568 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 714 (2013)