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What Does Ex Post Facto Mean? PDF Print E-mail
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In Latin, Ex Post Facto means "after the fact".  In criminal law, the Ex Post Facto Clause mandates that laws may not be applied retroactively if to do so would:  (1)  make an act criminal which would not have been criminal at the time the act was committed, (2) increase a punishment after the crime was committed, or (3) lower the burden of proof required to convict someone.  This means that you can't do something now which is not against the law and later be prosecuted for your act.  It also means that if you are already serving a sentence for an act, then if that act begins to carry a more lengthy sentence, the courts cannot apply the new conviction time to you.  And finally, in a criminal case, the burden of proof is the highest in that the state must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt.  That is what Ex Post Facto really means.

 

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