Blockburger v. United States, No. 374

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSUTHERLAND
PartiesBLOCKBURGER v. UNITED STATES
Docket NumberNo. 374
Decision Date04 January 1932

284 U.S. 299
52 S.Ct. 180
76 L.Ed. 306
BLOCKBURGER

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 374.
Argued and Submitted Nov. 24, 1931.
Decided Jan. 4, 1932.

On Writ of Certiorari to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Harry Blockburger was convicted of violating certain provisions of the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act. To review a judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals [50 F.(2d) 795], affirming the judgment of conviction, the defendant brings certiorari.

Judgment affirmed.

Page 300

Mr. Harold J. Bandy, of Granite City, Ill., for petitioner.

The Attorney General and Mr. Claude R. Branch, of Providence, R. I., for the United States.

Mr. Justice SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioner was charged with violating provisions of the Harrison Narcotic Act, c. 1, § 1, 38 Stat. 785, as amended by c. 18, § 1006, 40 Stat. 1057, 1131 (U. S. C. Title 26, § 692 [26 USCA § 692]);1 and c. 1, § 2, 38 Stat. 785, 786 (U. S. C., Title 26, § 696 [26 USCA § 696]).2 The indictment

Page 301

contained five counts. The jury returned a verdict against petitioner upon the second, third, and fifth counts only. Each of these counts charged a sale of morphine hydrochloride to the same purchaser. The second count charged a sale on a specified day of ten grains of the drug not in or from the original stamped package; the third count charged a sale on the following day of eight grains of the drug not in or from the original stamped package; the fifth count charged the latter sale also as having been made not in pursuance of a written order of the purchaser as required by the statute. The court sentenced petitioner to five years' imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 upon each count, the terms of imprisonment to run consecutively; and this judgment was affirmed on appeal. (C. C. A.) 50 F.(2d) 795.

The principal contentions here made by petitioner are as follows: (1) That, upon the facts, the two sales charged in the second and third counts as having been made to the same person constitute a single offense; and (2) that the sale charged in the third count as having been made not from the original stamped package, and the same sale charged in the fifth count as having been made not in pursuance of a written order of the purchaser, constitute but one offense, for which only a single penalty lawfully may be imposed.

One. The sales charged in the second and third counts, although made to the same person, were distinct and separate sales made at different times. It appears from the evidence that, shortly after delivery of the drug which was the subject of the first sale, the purchaser paid for an additional quantity, which was delivered the next day. But the first sale had been consummated, and the payment for the additional drug, however closely following, was the initiation of a separate and distinct sale completed by its delivery.

The contention on behalf of petitioner is that these two sales, having been made to the same purchaser and

Page 302

following each other, with no substantial interval of time between the delivery of the drug in the first transaction and the payment for the second quantity sold, constitute a single continuing offense. The contention is unsound. The distinction between the transactions here involved and an offense continuous in its character is well settled, as was pointed out by this court in the case of In re Snow, 120 U. S. 274, 7 S. Ct. 556, 30 L. Ed. 658. There it was held that the offense of cohabiting with more than one woman, created by the Act of March 22, 1882, c. 47, 22 Stat. 31 (now 18 USCA § 514) was a continuous offense, and was committed, in the sense of the statute, where there was a living or dwelling together as husband and wife. The court said (pages 281, 286 of 120 U. S., 7 S. Ct. 556, 559):

'It is, inherently, a continuous offense, having duration; and not an offense consisting of an isolated act. * * *

'A distinction is laid down in adjudged cases and in text-writers between an offense continuous in its character, like the one at bar, and a case where the statute is aimed at an offense that can be committed uno ictu.'

The Narcotic Act does not create the offense of engaging in the business of selling the forbidden drugs, but penalizes any sale made in the absence of either of the qualifying requirements set forth. Each of...

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9886 practice notes
  • United States v. Jefferson, No. 09–5130.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • March 29, 2012
    ...of action which they constitute. If the former, then each act is punishable separately.... If the latter, there can be but one penalty.” 284 U.S. 299, 302, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932) (internal quotation marks omitted). As the Eighth Circuit recognized in United States v. Gardner, an ......
  • Grady v. Corbin, No. 89-474
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 29, 1990
    ...U.S. 410, 100 S.Ct. 2260, 65 L.Ed.2d 228, that if two successive prosecutions were not barred by the test of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304, 52 S.Ct. 180, 182, 76 L.Ed. 306, the second prosecution would be barred if the prosecution sought to establish an essential element o......
  • Whalen v. United States, No. 78-5471
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 16, 1980
    ...which the other does not." The statute embodies in this respect the rule of statutory construction stated in Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304, 52 S.Ct. 180, 182, 76 L.Ed. 306, and, in this case, leads to the conclusion that Congress did not authorize consecutive sentences for......
  • U.S. v. Woodward, No. 81-1140
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • February 29, 1984
    ...1001 offense merges into the section 1058 conviction pursuant to the statutory interpretation rule of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 On March 1, 1980, Charles Noel Woodward, the defendant and appellant, arrived with his wife Diane at Los Angeles Inter......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9878 cases
  • United States v. Jefferson, No. 09–5130.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • March 29, 2012
    ...of action which they constitute. If the former, then each act is punishable separately.... If the latter, there can be but one penalty.” 284 U.S. 299, 302, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932) (internal quotation marks omitted). As the Eighth Circuit recognized in United States v. Gardner, an ......
  • Grady v. Corbin, No. 89-474
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 29, 1990
    ...U.S. 410, 100 S.Ct. 2260, 65 L.Ed.2d 228, that if two successive prosecutions were not barred by the test of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304, 52 S.Ct. 180, 182, 76 L.Ed. 306, the second prosecution would be barred if the prosecution sought to establish an essential element o......
  • Whalen v. United States, No. 78-5471
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 16, 1980
    ...which the other does not." The statute embodies in this respect the rule of statutory construction stated in Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304, 52 S.Ct. 180, 182, 76 L.Ed. 306, and, in this case, leads to the conclusion that Congress did not authorize consecutive sentences for......
  • U.S. v. Woodward, No. 81-1140
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • February 29, 1984
    ...1001 offense merges into the section 1058 conviction pursuant to the statutory interpretation rule of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 On March 1, 1980, Charles Noel Woodward, the defendant and appellant, arrived with his wife Diane at Los Angeles Inter......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • FEDERAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...in examining another conspiracy.’” (quoting United States v. Mack, 837 F.2d254, 258 (6th Cir. 1988))).89. Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304 (1932) (explaining the rule for determining when adefendant, for purposes of double jeopardy, may be charged with violating multiple stat......
  • OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...effort[] to manipulate federal off‌icials into unwittingly furthering his criminal scheme”). 75. See Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304 (1932); United States v. Sharpe, 193 F.3d 852, 863 (5th Cir. 1999) (“[E]ach offense must contain an element not contained in the other; if not......
  • FALSE STATEMENTS AND FALSE CLAIMS
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...Id. at 354. Bronston has been applied in the § 1001 context in cases such as Castro, 704 F.3d at 139. 98. Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 304 (1932). Applying the Blockburger rule to § 1001, the Supreme Court held in 1985 that a conviction under both § 1001 and 31 U.S.C. §§ 1058......
  • FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FRAUD
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...(1st Cir. 2011) (citing United States v. Canas, 595 F.2d 73, 78 (1st Cir. 1979)) (def‌ining duplicity in the context of bank fraud). 99. 284 U.S. 299, 304 (1932) (holding that double jeopardy is not implicated when comparing two offenses arising out of the same transaction if each offense’s......
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