Ohio v. Johnson
Annotate this Case
467 U.S. 493 (1984)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Ohio v. Johnson, 467 U.S. 493 (1984)
Ohio v. Johnson
Argued April 25, 1984
Decided June 11, 1984
467 U.S. 493
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. 467 U. S. 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. 467 U. S. 497-500.
(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
Double Jeopardy Clause as a sword to prevent the State from completing its prosecution on the remaining charges. Pp. 467 U. S. 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. 467 U. S. 503. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 467 U. S. 503.