424 U.S. 544 (1976), 74-1141, United States v. Gaddis

Docket Nº:No. 74-1141
Citation:424 U.S. 544, 96 S.Ct. 1023, 47 L.Ed.2d 222
Party Name:United States v. Gaddis
Case Date:March 03, 1976
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 544

424 U.S. 544 (1976)

96 S.Ct. 1023, 47 L.Ed.2d 222

United States

v.

Gaddis

No. 74-1141

United States Supreme Court

March 3, 1976

Argued December 15, 1975

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondents were indicated for entering a federally insured bank with intent to rob it by force and violence (Count 1) and robbing the bank by force and violence (Count 2), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), with possessing the funds stolen in the robbery (Count 3), in violation of § 2113(c), and with assaulting four people with dangerous weapons during the robbery (Counts 4-8), in violation of § 2113(d), and thereafter found guilty and sentenced on all counts. The Court of Appeals reversed, and ordered a new trial on the ground that, as held in Heflin v. United States, 358 U.S. 415, it was plain error to allow a jury to convict the accused of receiving and possessing the same money taken in the same bank robbery, and that, under Milanovich v. United States, 365 U.S. 551, remanding the case for a new trial was the appropriate appellate remedy.

Held:

1. A person convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. §§ 2113(a), (b), and (d) cannot also be convicted of receiving or possessing the robbery proceeds in violation of § 2113(c). Heflin, supra at 419-420. Pp. 547-548.

2. The Court of Appeals was mistaken in requiring a new trial as the remedy for the trial court's not having dismissed Count 3 for lack of proof, since the error can be corrected by vacating the convictions and sentences under that count. Milanovich, supra, distinguished. Pp. 548-549.

3. The sentences under Counts 1 and 2 should also be vacated. Prince v. United States, 352 U.S. 322. P. 549 n. 12.

506 F.2d 352, vacated and remanded.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all Members joined except STEVENS, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. WHITE, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 551.

Page 545

STEWART, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

A federal grand jury in Georgia returned an eight-count indictment against the respondents Gaddis and Birt, charging them with entering a federally insured bank with intent to rob it by force and violence (Count 1) and robbing the bank by force and violence (Count 2), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a);1 with possessing the funds stolen in the robbery (Count 3), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(c);2 and with assaulting four people

Page 546

with dangerous weapons during the course of the robbery (Counts 4 to 8), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d).3 At the ensuing trial, the Government's evidence showed that three armed men had, on March 6, 1974, robbed the National Bank of Walton County in Loganville, Ga.,4 and that the robbers, in making their getaway, had engaged in an exchange of gunfire with Loganville's lone police officer. The Government's evidence further showed that two of the three robbers had been Gaddis and Birt.5 The jury found the respondents guilty on all counts of the indictment, and the trial judge sentenced each of them to aggregate prison terms of 25 years.6 In imposing the prison sentences, the judge stated:

[T]he Court realizes that twenty-five years is the maximum, and the cases say that there is a merger of all of those offenses. If there is any question as to the legality of that sentence, that's the Court's intention.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the judgments of conviction and ordered a new trial upon the ground that the District Judge had been in error in permitting the jury to convict the respondents on all

Page 547

eight counts of the indictment. Specifically, the appellate court held that this Court's decision in Heflin v. United States, 358 U.S. 415, had made it clear tat "it is plain error to allow a jury to convict an accused of taking and possessing the same money [96 S.Ct. 1026] obtained in the same bank robbery," and that, under this Court's decision in Milanovich v. United States, 365 U.S. 551, "the proper appellate remedy is to remand for a new trial." 506 F.2d 352, 354. We granted certiorari because of the discordant views in the Circuits regarding the proper application of the Heflin and Milanovich decisions.7 421 U.S. 987.

The Court of Appeals was correct in holding that a person convicted of robbing a bank in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2113(a), (b), and (d), cannot also be convicted of receiving or possessing the proceeds of that robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(c). This much was clearly settled in the Heflin case. The Court there held that

subsection (c) was not designed to increase the punishment for him who robs a bank, but only to provide punishment for those who receive the loot from the robber.

358 U.S. at 419. In "subsection (c) . . . , Congress was trying to reach a new group of wrongdoers, not to multiply the offense of the bank robbers themselves." Id. at 420. Thus, while there was in the present case a "merger" of the convictions under §§ 2113(a) and (d), Prince v. United States, 352

Page 548

U.S. 322, the merger could not include the conviction under § 2113(c). Receipt or possession of the proceeds of a bank robbery in violation of § 2113(c) is simply not a lesser included offense within the total framework of the bank robbery provisions of § 2113. Rather, § 2113(c) reaches a different "group of wrongdoers," i.e., "those...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP