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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98484 Find in a Library
Title: Fifth Amendment - Double Jeopardy - Legislative Intent Controls in Crimes and Punishments - Missouri v Hunter, 103 S Ct 673 (1983)
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:74  Issue:4  Dated:(1983)  Pages:1300-1314
Author(s): D L Schmitt
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 15
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In Missouri v. Hunter, the U.S. Supreme Court held that once a legislature has clearly declared its intent to impose more than one penalty for any given offense, the guarantee against double jeopardy does not prevent the imposition of multiple punishments when all charges are brought at a single trial.
Abstract: In Missouri, Danny Hunter was convicted of first-degree robbery, armed criminal action, and assault with malice; he was sentenced to concurrent terms of 10 years imprisonment for the robbery, 15 years for the armed criminal action, and a consecutive term of 5 years for the assault, bringing the total sentence to 20 years. Hunter appealed, claiming that sentences for both first-degree robbery and armed criminal action (the same offense) constituted double jeopardy. After the Missouri Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the conviction and the 15-year sentence for armed criminal action, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded. Chief Justice Burger, speaking for the majority, reasoned that although the double jeopardy clause does prohibit multiple punishments for the same offense, this prohibition is applicable only when separate trials are held. The Court majority also reasoned that the double jeopardy clause does not limit the discretion of a legislature either in defining crimes or in prescribing punishments for those crimes. In the future, legislation which prescribes multiple punishments for essentially the same offense may be challenged as constituting cruel and unusual punishment; the Court has recognized that sentence length may violate the eighth amendment when it is not rationally related to the offense severity. Also, the due process clause might be held to invalidate statutory schemes that define too many separate crimes based on one act, if such definitions could not be found rationally related to legitimate state objectives. A total of 85 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Cruel and unusual punishment; Missouri; Right against double jeopardy; Right to Due Process; State laws; US Supreme Court decisions
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