Jeffers v. United States,
432 U.S. 137 (1977)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Jeffers v. United States, 432 U.S. 137 (1977)

Jeffers v. United States

No. 75-1805

Argued March 21, 1977

Decided June 16, 1977

432 U.S. 137


A federal grand jury returned two indictments against petitioner for offenses under 21 U.S.C. One charged him and nine others with violating § 846 by conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine during a specified period in violation of § 841(a)(1), the indictment specifying, inter alia, that the conspiracy was to be accomplished by petitioner's assumption of leadership of a certain organization, by distribution of controlled substances, and by acquisition of substantial sums of money through such distribution. The other charged petitioner alone with violating § 848, which prohibits conducting a continuing criminal enterprise to violate the drug laws, by his distributing and possessing with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, in violation of § 841(a)(1) during the same specified period, the indictment alleging that he had undertaken the distribution "in concert" with five or more others, with respect to whom he occupied the position of organizer and supervisor, and that, as a result of the distribution, he had obtained a substantial income. The court denied a motion by the Government to consolidate the indictments for trial, which the petitioner and his codefendants had opposed on the grounds that neither the parties nor the charges were the same and that, based on the overt acts charged, much of the § 846 evidence would not inculpate petitioner, and would therefore be inadmissible against him on the § 848 charge. Petitioner and six codefendants were first tried and found guilty on the § 846 indictment, petitioner receiving the maximum sentence applicable to him of 15 years in prison, a $25,000 fine, and three-year special parole term, and the conviction was affirmed on appeal. Petitioner then moved to dismiss the § 848 indictment on the ground that in the § 846 trial he had already been placed in jeopardy for the same offense and that the "same evidence" rule of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U. S. 299, barred the second prosecution since a § 846 conspiracy was a lesser included offense of a § 848 continuing criminal enterprise. Following denial of petitioner's motion on the ground that the offenses were separate, petitioner was tried and found guilty of the § 848 offense, and was given the maximum sentence for a first offender, viz., life imprisonment and a $100,000 fine, to run consecutively with the § 846 sentence. The Court of Appeals,

Page 432 U. S. 138

although concluding that § 846 was a lesser included offense of § 848, and that the earlier conviction would normally, under Blockburger, bar the subsequent prosecution, held that Iannelli v. United States, 420 U. S. 770, created a new double jeopardy rule applicable only to complex statutory crimes, where greater and lesser offenses could be separately punished if, as here, Congress so intended. Petitioner challenged the Iannelli interpretation, and also contended that the Double Jeopardy Clause was violated by the prosecution on the greater offense and conviction of the lesser and that he had not waived the double jeopardy issue.

Held: The judgment is affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. Pp. 432 U. S. 147-158; 432 U. S. 160.

532 F.2d 1101, affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.


1. Petitioner's action in opposing the Government's motion to consolidate the indictments for trial deprived him of any right he might have had against consecutive trials, and the Government was therefore entitled to prosecute petitioner for the § 848 offense. This result is an exception to the rule established in Brown v. Ohio, post, p. 432 U. S. 161, that the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the trial of a defendant for a greater offense after he has been convicted of a lesser included offense, being no different from other situations where a defendant enjoys protection under the Double Jeopardy Clause but, for one reason or another, may be retried. Here petitioner, who could have been tried in one proceeding, chose not to adopt that course, and therefore was solely responsible for the separate prosecutions. Pp. 432 U. S. 147-154.

2. It cannot be assumed that Congress intended to impose cumulative penalties under §§ 846 and 848, and petitioner is therefore entitled to have the fine imposed at the second trial reduced so that the two fines together do not exceed $100,000. Pp. 154-158.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE concluded that Iannelli v. United States, supra, controls this case, and therefore concurs in the judgment with respect to petitioner's conviction. P. 432 U. S. 158.

MR JUSTICE STEVENS, joined by MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, MR. JUSTICE STEWART, and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, concurs in the judgment to the extent that it vacates the cumulative fines. P. 432 U. S. 160.

BLACKMUN, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in part in the judgment and dissenting in part, post, p. 432 U. S. 158. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion dissenting in part

Page 432 U. S. 139

and concurring in the judgment in part, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 432 U. S. 158.

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.