Missouri v. Hunter,
459 U.S. 359 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Missouri v. Hunter, 459 U.S. 359 (1983)

Missouri v. Hunter

No. 81-1214

Argued November 10, 1982

Decided January 19, 1983

459 U.S. 359


A Missouri statute provides that any person who commits any felony under the laws of the State through the use of a dangerous or deadly weapon is also guilty of the crime of armed criminal action punishable by imprisonment for not less than three years, which punishment shall be in addition to any punishment provided by law for the felony. Another Missouri statute provides that any person convicted of the felony of first-degree robbery by means of a dangerous and deadly weapon shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five years. Respondent, as the result of a robbery of a supermarket in which he used a revolver, was convicted in a Missouri state court of both first-degree robbery and armed criminal action, and, pursuant to the statutes, was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 10 years for robbery and 15 years for armed criminal action. The Missouri Court of Appeals reversed respondent's conviction and sentence for armed criminal action on the ground that his sentence for both robbery and armed criminal action violated the protection against multiple punishments for the same offense provided by the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment as made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. The court construed the robbery and armed criminal action statutes as defining the "same offense" under the test announced in Blockburger v. United States, 284 U. S. 299, i.e., where the same act or transaction constitutes a violation of two distinct statutes, the test for determining whether there are two offenses, or only one, is whether each statute requires proof of a fact which the other does not.

Held: Respondent's conviction and sentence for both armed criminal action and first-degree robbery in a single trial did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause. Pp. 459 U. S. 365-369.

(a) With respect to cumulative sentences imposed in a single trial, the Double Jeopardy Clause does no more than prevent the sentencing court from prescribing greater punishment than the legislature intended. Pp. 459 U. S. 365-368.

(b) Simply because two criminal statutes may be construed to proscribe the same conduct under the Blockburger test does not mean that the Double Jeopardy Clause precludes the imposition, in a single trial, of cumulative punishments pursuant to those statutes. Whalen v. United States, 445 U. S. 684; Albernaz v. United States, 450 U. S. 333. The

Page 459 U. S. 360

rule of statutory construction whereby cumulative punishments are not permitted "in the absence of a clear indication of contrary legislative intent," Whalen, supra, at 445 U. S. 692, is not a constitutional rule requiring courts to negate clearly expressed legislative intent. Accordingly, where, as here, a legislature specifically authorizes cumulative punishment under two statutes, regardless of whether those statutes proscribe the "same" conduct under Blockburger, a court's task of statutory construction is at an end, and the prosecution may seek and the trial court or jury may impose cumulative punishment under such statutes in a single trial. Pp. 459 U. S. 368-369.

622 S.W.2d 374, vacated and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS, J., joined, post, p. 459 U. S. 369.

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