Commonwealth v. Negron, SJC–10967.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtGANTS
Citation967 N.E.2d 99,462 Mass. 102
Docket NumberSJC–10967.
Decision Date02 May 2012

462 Mass. 102
967 N.E.2d 99



Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts,

Argued Jan. 3, 2012.
Decided May 2, 2012.

[967 N.E.2d 100]

William W. Adams, Plainfield, for the defendant.

Katherine A. Robertson, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.



[462 Mass. 102]On the night of June 27, 2003, four armed men entered an apartment in Springfield intending to rob the occupants. The men failed in the attempt, but one of the four men shot one of the occupants with a BB gun. The occupants detained one of the men until the police arrived; the other three [462 Mass. 103]escaped. The defendant, Jose Negron, was found hiding in a house a few blocks from the attempted robbery, and was identified by two victims as one of the persons who broke into the apartment.

The defendant was indicted on charges of home invasion, in violation of G.L. c. 265, § 18C; assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, in violation of G.L. c. 265, § 15A ( b ); burglary in the nighttime when armed or when making an assault, in violation of G.L. c. 266, § 14 (aggravated burglary); and armed assault in a dwelling house, in violation of G.L. c. 265, § 18A (armed assault in a dwelling). On May 13, 2004, the defendant pleaded guilty to assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, aggravated burglary, and armed assault in a dwelling.2 The defendant was sentenced to from three to five years in State prison on his conviction of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to two years' probation, to run concurrently and to commence on and after his release from State prison, on the other two convictions.

The defendant later filed a motion pursuant to Mass. R.Crim. P. 30(a), as appearing in 435 Mass. 1501 (2001), to vacate the conviction of armed assault in a dwelling on the ground that it was duplicative of the conviction of aggravated burglary. A judge (who was not the sentencing judge) denied the motion. The defendant appealed, and we granted his application for direct appellate review.

Discussion. The defendant's motion raises two questions: whether a defendant can challenge a conviction as duplicative after having pleaded guilty to the allegedly duplicative indictments; and whether the crime of armed assault in a dwelling is a lesser included offense of aggravated burglary, such that his conviction of both offenses is duplicative and one must be vacated. We address each in turn.

[967 N.E.2d 101]

1. Collateral attacks on plea agreements. Where a defendant is charged with two criminal offenses based on the same conduct and where the Legislature has not declared its intent that a defendant be punished separately for both offenses, convictions of a greater and lesser offense are duplicative and barred by the [462 Mass. 104]prohibition against double jeopardy. See Luk v. Commonwealth, 421 Mass. 415, 419, 658 N.E.2d 664 (1995), citing North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969) ( “double jeopardy clause [of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution] protects against three distinct abuses: a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal; a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction; and multiple punishments for the same offense.... It is the third protection that is at issue here”); Kuklis v. Commonwealth, 361 Mass. 302, 305–306, 280 N.E.2d 155 (1972)( Kuklis ). See also Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 169, 97 S.Ct. 2221, 53 L.Ed.2d 187 (1977) (“Fifth Amendment forbids successive prosecution and cumulative punishment for a greater and lesser included offense”).3

In Kuklis, supra at 303–304, the defendant pleaded guilty to charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, and being present where marijuana was kept, all based on possession of the same marijuana, and later sought dismissal of the latter two convictions as duplicative. We concluded that the Legislature did not intend that a defendant be punished separately for the same possession of an illegal substance, and that the latter two convictions “cannot stand”; the sentences were vacated and the complaints dismissed. Id. at 307–309, 280 N.E.2d 155. The Commonwealth in Kuklis did not contend that the defendant had waived his right to challenge his convictions as duplicative by having pleaded guilty to them, so we did not address the issue of waiver.

In Commonwealth v. Clark, 379 Mass. 623, 625–626, 400 N.E.2d 251 (1980), however, the Commonwealth argued that the defendant's guilty plea “waived his right to raise double jeopardy and due process issues on appeal,” and we rejected the argument. We concluded that “[a] guilty plea will not preclude a court from hearing a constitutional claim that the State should not have tried the defendant at all,” id. at 626, 400 N.E.2d 251, citing Menna v. New York, 423 U.S. 61, 62–63 n. 2, 96 S.Ct. 241, 46 L.Ed.2d 195 (1975), noting that a defendant's claim of double jeopardy “goes to the ‘very power of the State to bring the defendant into court.’ ” Id., quoting Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21, 30, 94 S.Ct. 2098, 40 L.Ed.2d 628 (1974).

[462 Mass. 105]A defendant's entitlement to challenge a conviction obtained through a guilty plea is reflected in rule 30(a), which provides:

“Any person who is imprisoned or whose liberty is restrained pursuant to a criminal conviction may at any time, as of right, file a written motion requesting the trial judge to release him or her or to correct the sentence then being served upon the ground that the confinement or restraint was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” 4

[967 N.E.2d 102]

A guilty plea is “an admission of the facts charged and ‘is itself a conviction.’ ” Kuklis, supra at 305, 280 N.E.2d 155, quoting Kercheval v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 223–224, 47 S.Ct. 582, 71 L.Ed. 1009 (1927). Rule 30(a) therefore permits a defendant to raise a double jeopardy challenge to his continued confinement or restraint arising from a criminal conviction, whether from a guilty plea or a jury verdict, “at any time, as of right.” Consequently, under both our common law and rules of criminal procedure, a defendant is not barred by his guilty plea from bringing an appeal or collateral challenge to his conviction on the ground that the conviction violated the prohibition against double jeopardy.

The Commonwealth urges us to follow the lead of the Appeals Court, which has held that, where a defendant does not challenge as duplicative the charges in a pretrial motion to dismiss and pleads guilty voluntarily and intelligently to the allegedly duplicative charges, the defendant's guilty plea forecloses any double jeopardy claim. See Commonwealth v. Buckley, 76 Mass.App.Ct. 123, 128–129, 920 N.E.2d 73 (2010)( Buckley );Commonwealth v. Mazzantini, 74 Mass.App.Ct. 915, 915–916, 909 N.E.2d 546 (2009)( Mazzantini ). Both decisions appear to treat the United States Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Broce, 488 U.S. 563, 109 S.Ct. 757, 102 L.Ed.2d 927 (1989)( Broce ), as controlling precedent. It is not.

[462 Mass. 106]In Broce, supra at 565–566, 109 S.Ct. 757, the defendants had pleaded guilty to two indictments charging conspiracy to “rig bids” and suppress competition in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, and were sentenced separately on each indictment. Later, the defendants moved to vacate their convictions on the second indictment, claiming that the two conspiracies were actually one overarching conspiracy, and that the two convictions were therefore duplicative. Id. at 566–567, 109 S.Ct. 757. The Court held that the defendants were foreclosed from the collateral challenge because “a defendant who pleads guilty to two counts with facial allegations of distinct offenses concede[s] that he has committed two separate crimes.” Id. at 569–570, 109 S.Ct. 757. Because the Broce indictments alleged two distinct agreements (the first, an agreement beginning in April, 1978, to rig bids on one specified highway project; and the second, an agreement beginning fifteen months later to rig bids on a different project, id. at 570, 109 S.Ct. 757), and the defendants, before entering their guilty pleas, did not “attempt to show the existence of only one conspiracy in a trial-type proceeding,” the defendants “relinquished that entitlement.” Id. at 571, 109 S.Ct. 757.

The rule of relinquishment articulated in Broce is not constitutional in nature but is a procedural bar under Federal common law, which does not govern State procedural law. See Commonwealth v. LePage, 352 Mass. 403, 409, 226 N.E.2d 200 (1967) (“Federal rules and cases ... do not control Massachusetts procedures, so long as there is no violation of applicable Federal constitutional principles”). See also Lefkowitz v. Newsome, 420 U.S. 283, 288–292, 95 S.Ct. 886, 43 L.Ed.2d 196 (1975) (applying

[967 N.E.2d 103]

State law to determine whether guilty plea constituted waiver of constitutional claims). Where we have declared as a matter of State procedural common law that a guilty plea does not relinquish a defendant's entitlement to challenge a conviction on...

To continue reading

Request your trial
23 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Gomez, SJC-12437
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • August 10, 2018
    ...473 Mass. 42, 55-56, 38 N.E.3d 278 (2015) (ineffective assistance of counsel claim can survive guilty plea); Commonwealth v. Negron, 462 Mass. 102, 105, 967 N.E.2d 99 (2012) ("defendant is not barred by his guilty plea from bringing an appeal or collateral challenge to his conviction on the......
  • Commonwealth v. Dykens, SJC–11879.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 17, 2016
    ...preclude a court from hearing a constitutional claim that the State should not have tried the defendant at all.” Commonwealth v. Negron, 462 Mass. 102, 104, 967 N.E.2d 99 (2012), quoting Commonwealth v. Clark, 379 Mass. 623, 626, 400 N.E.2d 251 (1980). A guilty plea is “an admission of the ......
  • Commonwealth v. Alcequiecz, SJC–10699.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 13, 2013
    ...dwelling, and that the defendant was armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of the breaking and entering. See Commonwealth v. Negron, 462 Mass. 102, 110, 967 N.E.2d 99 (2012). Although a car battery “charger pack” is not a dangerous weapon per se, the jury reasonably could have concluded......
  • United States v. Bernel-Aveja, 15-20308
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • December 13, 2016
    ...of another; and (2) did so with the intent to commit theft or a crime of violence.") (citations omitted).92 See Commonwealth v. Negron , 462 Mass. 102, 967 N.E.2d 99, 105 (2012) ("The elements of aggravated burglary are: (1) the defendant broke into and entered the dwelling of another; (2) ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT