This Note outlines the history and development of the petty offense exception and the Supreme Court's jury trial entitlement jurisprudence. In particular, it discusses the fundamental principle of gauging criminal seriousness by the length of a penalty as authorized by statute. This Note sets out the Circuit split and explains why the courts are divided on the aggregation issue. It argues that courts must aggregate maximum penalties for multiple petty offenses charged together to accurately reflect legislative determinations of criminal seriousness. It also criticizes the use of pre-trial sentencing stipulations to circumvent trial by jury when it would otherwise be required.

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Criminal Law Commons