Currier v. Virginia

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: June 22, 2018
  • Case #: 16-1348
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: GORSUCH, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I and II, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion concurring in part. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the 14th Amendment does not bar the re-litigating of issues or introduction of evidence for a severed offense, where the Defendant requested severance of the trials and has been acquitted of the related charges.

Petitioner was charged with burglary, larceny, and unlawful possession of a firearm. To avoid jury prejudice from introduction of his prior convictions, Petitioner requested severance of the trial for the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, and the state consented. Petitioner was later acquitted for the offenses of burglary and larceny, and sought to have the severed charge dismissed under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the 14th Amendment. The state court denied the motion finding Petitioner guilty of the offense. The Virginia Court of Appeals and Virginia Supreme Court affirmed. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower courts, deciding that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the 14th Amendment does not bar the relitigating of issues or introduction of evidence for a severed offense, especially where the Petitioner requested severance. The Court reasoned that the clause bans only the retrial of a single offense once a defendant has been acquitted or convicted of the crime. The Court cited Commonwealth v. Roby., 12 Pickering 496 (Mass. 1836) which states that probative evidence and issues will not be excluded for trials of offenses “distinct in point of law” but factually related. The Court further stated that civil preclusion principles do not apply in a criminal case for a separate offense. AFFIRMED.

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