In re Winship
Argued January 20, 1970
Decided March 31, 1970
Full case nameIn the Matter of Samuel Winship, Appellant
Citations397 U.S. 358 (more)
90 S. Ct. 1068; 25 L. Ed. 2d 368; 51 O.O.2d 323; 1970 U.S. LEXIS 56
Case history
Prior91 N.Y.S.2d 1005 (App. Div. 1968), aff'd, 247 N.E.2d 253 (N.Y. 1969).
The Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause requires that every element of a criminal offense be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, instead of the preponderance of the evidence standard used heretofore in juvenile court.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · William O. Douglas
John M. Harlan II · William J. Brennan Jr.
Potter Stewart · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall
Case opinions
MajorityBrennan, joined by Douglas, Harlan, White, Marshall
DissentBurger, joined by Stewart
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV

In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970), was a United States Supreme Court decision that held that "the Due Process Clause protects the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged."[1]: 17  It established this burden in all cases in all states (constitutional case).[1]: 17  The decision did not specify which facts constitute the charged crime.[1]: 17 

In an opinion authored by Justice Brennan, the Court held that when a juvenile is charged with an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult, every element of the offense must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, not preponderance of the evidence.[2] The case has come to stand for a broader proposition, however: in a criminal prosecution, every essential element of the offense must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. See, e.g., Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 477 (2000); Sullivan v. Louisiana, 508 U.S. 275, 278 (1993).[3] This case marked a rejection of the preponderance of evidence standard in any criminal cases and expanded the protections afforded by the Due Process Clause. [4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Criminal Law - Cases and Materials, 7th ed. 2012, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business; John Kaplan, Robert Weisberg, Guyora Binder, ISBN 978-1-4548-0698-1, [1]
  2. ^ Varat, J.D. et al. Constitutional Law Cases and Materials, Concise Thirteenth Edition. Foundation Press, New York, NY: 2009, p. 356
  3. ^ Varat, p. 357
  4. ^ "The Restoration of In re Winship: A Comment on Burdens of Persuasion in Criminal Cases After Patterson v. New York". Michigan Law Review. 2022-01-26.