Amdt5.2.4 Reprosecution Following Conviction

Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

A basic purpose of the Double Jeopardy Clause is to protect a defendant against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction.1 It is settled that no man can be twice lawfully punished for the same offense.2 Of course, the defendant’s interest in finality, which informs much of double jeopardy jurisprudence, is quite attenuated following conviction, and he will most likely appeal, whereas the prosecution will ordinarily be content with its judgment. 3 The situation involving reprosecution ordinarily arises, therefore, only in the context of successful defense appeals and controversies over punishment.

Reprosecution After Reversal on Defendant’s Appeal

Generally, a defendant who is successful in having his conviction set aside on appeal may be tried again for the same offense, the assumption being made in the first case on the subject that, by appealing, a defendant has waived his objection to further prosecution by challenging the original conviction. 4 Although it has characterized the waiver theory as totally unsound and indefensible,5 the Court has been hesitant in formulating a new theory in maintaining the practice. 6

An exception to full application of the retrial rule exists, however, when defendant on trial for an offense is convicted of a lesser offense and succeeds in having that conviction set aside. Thus, in Green v. United States, 7 the defendant had been placed on trial for first degree murder but convicted of second degree murder; the Court held that, following reversal of that conviction, he could not be tried again for first degree murder, although he certainly could be for second degree murder, on the theory that the first verdict was an implicit acquittal of the first degree murder charge. 8 Even though the Court thought the jury’s action in the first trial was clearly erroneous, the Double Jeopardy Clause required that the jury’s implicit acquittal be respected. 9

Still another exception arises out of appellate reversals grounded on evidentiary insufficiency. Thus, in Burks v. United States, 10 the appellate court set aside the defendant’s conviction on the basis that the prosecution had failed to rebut defendant’s proof of insanity. In directing that the defendant could not be retried, the Court observed that if the trial court had so held in the first instance, as the reviewing court said it should have done, a judgment of acquittal would have been entered and, of course, petitioner could not be retried for the same offense. . . . [I]t should make no difference that the reviewing court, rather than the trial court, determined the evidence to be insufficient.11 The policy underlying the clause of not allowing the prosecution to make repeated efforts to convict forecloses giving the prosecution another opportunity to supply evidence which it failed to muster in the first proceeding. On the other hand, if a reviewing court reverses a jury conviction because of its disagreement on the weight rather than the sufficiency of the evidence, retrial is permitted; the appellate court’s decision does not mean that acquittal was the only proper course, hence the deference required for acquittals is not merited. 12 Also, the Burks rule does not bar reprosecution following a reversal based on erroneous admission of evidence, even if the remaining properly admitted evidence would be insufficient to convict. 13

Sentence Increases

The Double Jeopardy Clause protects against imposition of multiple punishment for the same offense. 14 The application of the principle leads, however, to a number of complexities. In a simple case, it was held that where a court inadvertently imposed both a fine and imprisonment for a crime for which the law authorized one or the other but not both, it could not, after the fine had been paid and the defendant had entered his short term of confinement, recall the defendant and change its judgment by sentencing him to imprisonment only. 15 But the Court has held that the imposition of a sentence does not from the moment of imposition have the finality that a judgment of acquittal has. Thus, it has long been recognized that in the same term of court and before the defendant has begun serving the sentence the court may recall him and increase his sentence. 16 Moreover, a defendant who is retried after he is successful in overturning his first conviction is not protected by the Double Jeopardy Clause against receiving a greater sentence upon his second conviction. 17 An exception exists with respect to capital punishment, the Court having held that government may not again seek the death penalty on retrial when on the first trial the jury had declined to impose a death sentence. 18

Applying and modifying these principles, the Court narrowly approved the constitutionality of a statutory provision for sentencing of dangerous special offenders, which authorized prosecution appeals of sentences and permitted the appellate court to affirm, reduce, or increase the sentence. 19 The Court held that the provision did not offend the Double Jeopardy Clause. Sentences had never carried the finality that attached to acquittal, and its precedents indicated to the Court that imposition of a sentence less than the maximum was in no sense an acquittal of the higher sentence. Appeal resulted in no further trial or other proceedings to which a defendant might be subjected, only the imposition of a new sentence. An increase in a sentence would not constitute multiple punishment, the Court continued, inasmuch as it would be within the allowable sentence and the defendant could have no legitimate expectation of finality in the sentence as first given because the statutory scheme alerted him to the possibility of increase. Similarly upheld as within the allowable range of punishment contemplated by the legislature was a remedy for invalid multiple punishments under consecutive sentences: a shorter felony conviction was vacated, and time served was credited to the life sentence imposed for felony-murder. Even though the first sentence had been commuted and hence fully satisfied at the time the trial court revised the second sentence, the resulting punishment was no greater than the legislature intended, hence there was no double jeopardy violation. 20

The Court is also quite deferential to legislative classification of recidivism sentencing enhancement factors as relating only to sentencing and as not constituting elements of an offense that must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Ordinarily, therefore, sentence enhancements cannot be construed as additional punishment for the previous offense, and the Double Jeopardy Clause is not implicated. Sentencing enhancements do not punish a defendant for crimes for which he was not convicted, but rather increase his sentence because of the manner in which he committed his crime of conviction.21

Footnotes

  1.  North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717 (1969).
  2.  Ex parte Lange, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 163 (1873).
  3.  A prosecutor dissatisfied with the punishment imposed upon the first conviction might seek another trial in order to obtain a greater sentence. Cf. Ciucci v. Illinois, 356 U.S. 571 (1958) (under Due Process Clause, Double Jeopardy Clause not then applying to states).
  4.  United States v. Ball, 163 U.S. 662 (1896). The English rule precluded a new trial in these circumstances, and circuit Justice Story adopted that view. United States v. Gilbert, 25 Fed. Cas. 1287 (No. 15,204) (C.C.D.Mass. 1834). The history is briefly surveyed in Justice Frankfurter’s dissent in Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 200-05 (1957).
  5.  Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 197 (1957). The more recent cases continue to reject a waiver theory. E.g., United States v. Dinitz, 424 U.S. 600, 609 n.11 (1976); United States v. Scott, 437 U.S. 82, 99 (1978).
  6.  Justice Holmes, dissenting in Kepner v. United States, 195 U.S. 100, 134 (1904), rejected the waiver theory and propounded a theory of continuing jeopardy, which also continues to be rejected. See discussion, supra. In some cases, a concept of election by the defendant has been suggested, United States v. Scott, 437 U.S. 82, 93 (1978); Jeffers v. United States, 432 U.S. 137, 152-54 (1977), but it is not clear how this formulation might differ from waiver. Chief Justice Burger has suggested that probably a more satisfactory explanation for permissibility of retrial in this situation lies in analysis of the respective interests involved, Breed v. Jones, 421 U.S. 519, 533-35 (1975), and a determination that on balance the interests of both prosecution and defense are well served by the rule. See United States v. Tateo, 377 U.S. 463, 466 (1964); Tibbs v. Florida, 457 U.S. 31, 39-40 (1982).
  7.  355 U.S. 184 (1957).
  8.  The decision necessarily overruled Trono v. United States, 199 U.S. 521 (1905), although the Court purported to distinguish the decision. Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 194-97 (1957). See also Brantley v. Georgia, 217 U.S. 284 (1910) (no due process violation where defendant is convicted of higher offense on second trial).
  9.  See also Price v. Georgia, 398 U.S. 323 (1970). The defendant was tried for murder and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He obtained a reversal, was again tried for murder, and again convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Acknowledging that, after reversal, Price could have been tried for involuntary manslaughter, the Court nonetheless reversed the second conviction because he had been subjected to the hazard of twice being tried for murder, in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause, and the effect on the jury of the murder charge being pressed could have prejudiced him to the extent of the second conviction. But cf. Morris v. Mathews, 475 U.S. 237 (1986) (inadequate showing of prejudice resulting from reducing jeopardy-barred conviction for aggravated murder to non-jeopardy-barred conviction for first degree murder). To prevail in a case like this, the defendant must show that, but for the improper inclusion of the jeopardy-barred charge, the result of the proceeding probably would have been different. Id. at 247.
  10.  437 U.S. 1 (1978).
  11.  Id. at 10-11. See also Greene v. Massey, 437 U.S. 19 (1978) (remanding for determination whether appellate majority had reversed for insufficient evidence or whether some of the majority had based decision on trial error); Hudson v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40 (1981) (Burks applies where appellate court finds some but insufficient evidence adduced, not only where it finds no evidence). Burks was distinguished in Justices of Boston Mun. Court v. Lydon, 466 U.S. 294 (1984), which held that a defendant who had elected to undergo a bench trial with no appellate review but with the right of trial de novo before a jury (and with appellate review available) could not bar trial de novo and reverse his bench trial conviction by asserting that the conviction had been based on insufficient evidence. The two-tiered system in effect gave the defendant two chances at acquittal; under those circumstances jeopardy was not terminated by completion of the first entirely optional stage.
  12.  Tibbs v. Florida, 457 U.S. 31 (1982). The decision was 5-to-4, the dissent arguing that weight and insufficiency determinations should be given identical Double Jeopardy Clause treatment. Id. at 47 (Justices White, Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun).
  13.  Lockhart v. Nelson, 488 U.S. 33 (1988) (state may reprosecute under habitual offender statute even though evidence of a prior conviction was improperly admitted; at retrial, state may attempt to establish other prior convictions as to which no proof was offered at prior trial).
  14.  Ex parte Lange, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 163, 173 (1874); North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717 (1969).
  15.  Ex parte Lange, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 163 (1874).
  16.  Bozza v. United States, 330 U.S. 160 (1947). See also Pollard v. United States, 352 U.S. 354, 359-60 (1957) (imposition of prison sentence two years after court imposed an invalid sentence of probation approved). Dicta in some cases had cast doubt on the constitutionality of the practice. United States v. Benz, 282 U.S. 304, 307 (1931). However, United States v. DiFrancesco, 449 U.S. 117, 133-36, 138-39 (1980), upholding a statutory provision allowing the United States to appeal a sentence imposed on a dangerous special offender, removes any doubt on that score. The Court there reserved decision on whether the government may appeal a sentence that the defendant has already begun to serve.
  17.  North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 719-21 (1969). See also Chaffin v. Stynchcombe, 412 U.S. 17, 23-24 (1973). The principle of implicit acquittal of an offense drawn from Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184 (1957), does not similarly apply to create an implicit acquittal of a higher sentence. Pearce does hold that a defendant must be credited with the time served against his new sentence. 395 U.S. at 717-19.
  18.  Bullington v. Missouri, 451 U.S. 430 (1981). Four Justices dissented. Id. at 447 (Justices Powell, White, Rehnquist, and Chief Justice Burger). The Court disapproved Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15 (1919), although formally distinguishing it. Bullington was followed in Arizona v. Rumsey, 467 U.S. 203 (1984), also involving a separate sentencing proceeding in which a life imprisonment sentence amounted to an acquittal on imposition of the death penalty. Rumsey was decided by 7-2 vote, with only Justices White and Rehnquist dissenting. In Monge v. California, 524 U.S. 721 (1998), the Court refused to extend the narrow Bullington exception outside the area of capital punishment. But see Sattazahn v. Pennsylvania, 537 U.S. 101 (2003) (state may seek the death penalty in a retrial when defendant appealed following discharge of the sentencing jury under a statute authorizing discharge based on the court’s opinion that further deliberation would not result in a unanimous agreement as to the sentence, in which case the court shall sentence the defendant to life imprisonment).
  19.  United States v. DiFrancesco, 449 U.S. 117 (1980). Four Justices dissented. Id. at 143, 152 (Justices Brennan, White, Marshall, and Stevens).
  20.  Jones v. Thomas, 491 U.S. 376, 381-82 (1989).
  21.  United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148, 154 (1997) (relying on Witte v. United States, 515 U.S. 389 (1995), and holding that a sentencing court may consider earlier conduct of which the defendant was acquitted, so long as that conduct is proved by a preponderance of the evidence). See also Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224 (1998) (Congress’s decision to treat recidivism as a sentencing factor does not violate due process); Monge v. California, 524 U.S. 721 (1998) (retrial is permissible following appellate holding of failure of proof relating to sentence enhancement). Justice Scalia, whose dissent in Almendarez-Torres argued that there was constitutional doubt over whether recidivism factors that increase a maximum sentence must be treated as a separate offense for double jeopardy purposes (523 U.S. at 248), answered that question affirmatively in his dissent in Monge. 524 U.S. 740-41.