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OHIO v. JOHNSON

decided: June 11, 1984.

OHIO
v.
JOHNSON



CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO.

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. 503. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Marshall, J., joined, post, p. 503.

Author: Rehnquist

[ 467 U.S. Page 494]

 JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Kenneth Johnson was indicted by an Ohio grand jury for four offenses, ranging from murder to grand theft, as a result of the killing of Thomas Hill and the theft of property from Hill's apartment. Respondent offered to plead guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, but pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and aggravated robbery. Over the State's objection, the trial court accepted the "guilty" pleas to the lesser offenses, and then granted respondent's motion to dismiss the two most serious charges on the ground that because of his guilty pleas, further prosecution on the more serious offenses was barred by the double jeopardy prohibitions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. This judgment was affirmed on appeal through the Ohio state courts, and we granted certiorari. 465 U.S. 1004 (1984). We now reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio and hold that prosecuting respondent on the two more serious charges would not constitute the type of "multiple prosecution" prohibited by the Double Jeopardy Clause.

[ 467 U.S. Page 495]

     Thomas Hill was shot to death in his apartment in the city of Mentor-on-the-Lake, a city northeast of Cleveland on Lake Erie. Several weeks later, a county grand jury indicted respondent on one count each of murder,*fn1 involuntary manslaughter,*fn2 aggravated robbery,*fn3 and grand theft.*fn4 Meanwhile,

[ 467 U.S. Page 496]

     respondent had left Ohio and was not arraigned on the charges until nearly two years after the killing. At his arraignment respondent offered to plead guilty only to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and grand theft, while pleading not guilty to the more serious offenses of murder and aggravated robbery. Over the State's objection, the trial court accepted the guilty pleas and sentenced respondent to a term of imprisonment. App. 19-21. Respondent then moved to dismiss the remaining charges against him on the ground that their further prosecution would violate his right under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment not to be placed twice in jeopardy for the same offense. The trial court granted respondent's motion and dismissed the remaining charges, finding that because involuntary manslaughter and grand theft were, respectively, lesser included offenses of the remaining charges of murder and aggravated robbery, continued prosecution of the greater offenses after acceptance of respondent's guilty pleas on the lesser offenses was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. App. to Pet. for Cert. A24.

The Ohio Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the decision of the trial court. 6 Ohio St. 3d 420, 453 N. E. 2d 595 (1983). The State Supreme Court held that in these circumstances aggravated robbery was an "allied [offense] of similar import" to theft, id., at 422, 453 N. E. 2d, at 598,*fn5 and reasoned that since state law permitted conviction on only one of these charges, acceptance of respondent's guilty plea to the charge of theft prevented conviction for the charge of aggravated robbery. The crime of involuntary manslaughter was held to be distinguishable from the

[ 467 U.S. Page 497]

     offense of murder only by the mental states required to commit each offense, but that in any one killing, an offender could only be convicted of involuntary manslaughter or murder, but not both crimes.*fn6

We think the Supreme Court of Ohio was mistaken in its observation that "this case concerns the third double jeopardy protection prohibiting multiple punishments for the same offense." ...


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