In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 , which held that proof beyond a reasonable doubt is essential to due process at the adjudicatory stage when a juvenile is charged with an act that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult, must be given fully retroactive effect.
Certiorari granted; 37 App. Div. 2d 822, 324 N. Y. S. 2d 934, reversed and remanded.
The Court held in In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 , decided March 31, 1970, that proof beyond a reasonable doubt is among the essentials of due process and fair treatment that must be afforded at the adjudicatory stage when a juvenile is charged with an act that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult. In this case, on January 6, 1970, before Winship was decided, petitioner was adjudged a delinquent in the Family Court of Bronx County, New York, on a finding, based on the preponderance-of-evidence standard, that, at knifepoint, he forcibly took a bicycle from another boy, an act that, if done by an adult, would constitute the crime of robbery in the first degree. On direct appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed on the ground that Winship should be retroactively applied to all cases still in the appellate process, 35 App. Div. 2d 806, 316 N. Y. S. 2d 568 (1970). The New York Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division, holding that Winship was not to be applied retroactively, 29 N. Y. 2d 583, [407 U.S. 203, 204] 272 N. E. 2d 895 (1971). * On remand, the Appellate Division thereupon affirmed the delinquency adjudication, 37 App. Div. 2d 822, 324 N. Y. S. 2d 934 (1971), and the Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal from that affirmance, 29 N. Y. 2d 489 (1972). We disagree with the holding of the Court of Appeals that Winship is not to be applied retroactively.
Plainly, then, the major purpose of the constitutional standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt announced in Winship was to overcome an aspect of a criminal trial that substantially impairs the truth-finding function, and Winship is thus to be given complete retroactive effect. The motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and the petition for writ of certiorari are granted. The judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Judicial Department, is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
[ Footnote * ] The Court of Appeals followed Matter of D., 27 N. Y. 2d 90, 261 N. E. 2d 627 (1970), where Winship was said not to be retroactive but that even if it were, appellant there had waived the claim when he entered a guilty plea to the charges. In that circumstance this Court dismissed an appeal and denied certiorari in that case. D. v. County of Onandaga, 403 U.S. 926 (1971). [407 U.S. 203, 206]