467 U.S. 493 (1984), 83-904, Ohio v. Johnson

Docket Nº:No. 83-904
Citation:467 U.S. 493, 104 S.Ct. 2536, 81 L.Ed.2d 425
Party Name:Ohio v. Johnson
Case Date:June 11, 1984
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 493

467 U.S. 493 (1984)

104 S.Ct. 2536, 81 L.Ed.2d 425

Ohio

v.

Johnson

No. 83-904

United States Supreme Court

June 11, 1984

Argued April 25, 1984

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO

Syllabus

As a result of a killing and a theft of property, respondent was indicted by an Ohio grand jury on one count each of murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery, and grand theft. At his arraignment, the trial court, over the State's objection, accepted respondent's guilty pleas to involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, and then granted respondent's motion to dismiss the remaining charges, to which he had pleaded not guilty, on the ground that their further prosecution was barred by the double jeopardy prohibitions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Ohio Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed.

Held: The Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit the State from continuing its prosecution of respondent on the murder and aggravated robbery charges. Pp. 497-502.

(a) This case does not concern the double jeopardy protection against multiple punishments for the same offense. That protection is designed to ensure that the sentencing discretion of courts is confined to the limits established by the legislature. Here, the trial court's dismissal of the more serious charges did more than simply prevent the imposition of cumulative punishments; it halted completely the proceedings that ultimately would have led to a verdict of guilt or innocence on these charges. The Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit the State from prosecuting respondent for such multiple offenses in a single prosecution. Pp. 497-500.

[104 S.Ct. 2538] (b) Nor would further prosecution of the dismissed counts violate the double jeopardy prohibition against multiple prosecutions. No interest of respondent protected by the Double Jeopardy Clause is implicated by continuing prosecution on these counts. Respondent only offered to resolve part of the charges brought against him, while the State objected to disposing of any of the counts against respondent without a trial. He has not been exposed to conviction on these counts, nor has the State had the opportunity to marshal its evidence and resources more than once or to hone its presentation of its case through a trial. Moreover, the acceptance of a guilty plea on the lesser included offenses while the charges on the greater offenses remain pending has none of the implications of an "implied acquittal" that results from a guilty verdict on lesser included offenses rendered by a jury charged to consider both greater and lesser included offenses. Notwithstanding the trial court's acceptance of respondent's guilty pleas, respondent should not be entitled to use the

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Double Jeopardy Clause as a sword to prevent the State from completing its prosecution on the remaining charges. Pp. 500-502.

6 Ohio St.3d 420, 453 N.E.2d 595, reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 503. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 503.

REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Kenneth Johnson was indicted by an Ohio grand jury for four offenses, ranging from murder to grand theft, as a result of the killing of Thomas Hill and the theft of property from Hill's apartment. Respondent offered to plead guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, but pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and aggravated robbery. Over the State's objection, the trial court accepted the "guilty" pleas to the lesser offenses, and then granted respondent's motion to dismiss the two most serious charges on the ground that, because of his guilty pleas, further prosecution on the more serious offenses was barred by the double jeopardy prohibitions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. This judgment was affirmed on appeal through the Ohio state courts, and we granted certiorari. 465 U.S. 1004 (1984). We now reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio and hold that prosecuting respondent on the two more serious charges would not constitute the type of "multiple prosecution" prohibited by the Double Jeopardy Clause.

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Thomas Hill was shot to death in his apartment in the city of Mentor-on-the-Lake, a city northeast of Cleveland on Lake Erie. Several weeks later, a county grand jury indicted respondent on one count each of murder,1 involuntary manslaughter,2 aggravated robbery,3 and [104 S.Ct. 2539] grand theft.4 Meanwhile,

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respondent had left Ohio and was not arraigned on the charges until nearly two years after the killing. At his arraignment, respondent offered to plead guilty only to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, while pleading not guilty to the more serious offenses of murder and aggravated robbery. Over the State's objection, the trial court accepted the guilty pleas and sentenced respondent to a term of imprisonment. App.19-21. Respondent then moved to dismiss the remaining charges against him on the ground that their further prosecution would violate his right under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment not to be placed twice in jeopardy for the same offense. The trial court granted respondent's motion and dismissed the remaining charges, finding that, because involuntary manslaughter and grand theft were, respectively, lesser included offenses of the remaining charges of murder and aggravated robbery, continued prosecution of the greater offenses after acceptance of respondent's guilty pleas on the lesser offenses was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. App. to Pet. for Cert. A24.

The Ohio Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the decision of the trial court. 6 Ohio St.3d 420, 453 N.E.2d 595 (1983). The State Supreme Court held that, in these circumstances, aggravated robbery was an "allied offens[e] of similar import" to theft, id. at 422, 453 N.E.2d at 598,5 and reasoned that, since state law permitted conviction on only one of these charges, acceptance of respondent's guilty plea to the charge of theft prevented conviction for the charge of aggravated robbery. The crime of involuntary manslaughter was held to be distinguishable from the

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offense of murder only by the mental states required to commit each offense, but that, in any one killing, an offender could only be convicted of involuntary manslaughter or murder, but not both crimes.6

[104 S.Ct. 2540] We think the Supreme Court of Ohio was mistaken in its observation that "this case concerns the third double jeopardy protection prohibiting multiple punishments for the same offense." Id. at 421, 453 N.E.2d at 598.7 The Double

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Jeopardy Clause, of course, affords a defendant three basic protections:

"[It] protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal. It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction. And it protects against multiple punishments for the same offense."

Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 165 (1977), quoting North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717 (1969). As we have explained on numerous occasions, the bar to retrial following acquittal or conviction ensures that the State does not make repeated attempts to convict an individual, thereby exposing him to continued embarrassment, anxiety,

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and expense, while increasing the risk of an erroneous conviction or an impermissibly enhanced sentence. See, e.g., United States v. Wilson, 420 U.S. 332, 343 (1975); Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 187-188 (1957).

In contrast to the double jeopardy protection against multiple trials, the final component of double jeopardy -- protection against cumulative punishments -- is designed to ensure that the sentencing discretion of courts is confined to the limits established [104 S.Ct. 2541] by the legislature. Because the substantive power to prescribe crimes and determine punishments is vested with the legislature, United States v. Wiltberger, 5 Wheat. 76, 93 (1820), the question under the Double Jeopardy Clause whether punishments are "multiple" is essentially one of legislative intent, see Missouri v. Hunter, 459 U.S. 359, 366-368 (1983).8 But where a defendant is retried following conviction, the Clause's third protection ensures that, after a subsequent conviction, a defendant receives credit for time already served. North Carolina v. Pearce, supra, at 718.

We accept, as we must, the Ohio Supreme Court's determination that the Ohio Legislature did not intend cumulative punishment for the two pairs of crimes involved here. But before respondent can ever be punished for the offenses of murder and aggravated robbery, he will first have to be found guilty of those offenses. The trial court's dismissal of these more serious charges did more than simply prevent the imposition of cumulative punishments; it halted completely the proceedings that ultimately would have led to a verdict of

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guilt or innocence on these more serious charges. Presumably the trial court, in the event of a guilty verdict on the more serious offenses, will have to confront the question of cumulative punishments as a matter of state law, but because of that court's ruling preventing even the trial of the more serious offenses, that stage of the prosecution was never reached. While the Double Jeopardy Clause may protect a defendant against cumulative punishments for convictions on the same offense, the Clause does not prohibit the State from prosecuting respondent for such multiple offenses in a single prosecution.

Respondent urges, as an alternative basis for affirming the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio, that further prosecution of...

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