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Law School Case Brief

Blockburger v. United States - 284 U.S. 299, 52 S. Ct. 180 (1932)

Rule:

When the impulse is single, but one indictment lies, no matter how long the action may continue. If successive impulses are separately given, even though all unite in swelling a common stream of action, separate indictments lie. The test is whether the individual acts are prohibited, or the course of action which they constitute. If the former, then each act is punishable separately. If the latter, there can be but one penalty

Facts:

Defendant was charged and convicted of selling drugs without their original packaging and without a written order. Defendant contended that he had committed only one offense and that only one penalty could be imposed. Both of defendant's convictions and his consecutive sentencing were upheld on appeal. Defendant sought review of the ruling.

Issue:

Is defendant’s conviction for two sentences proper when he was caught selling drugs without original packaging and without a written order?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court affirmed the imposition of consecutive sentences because defendant had committed two violations by selling the drugs without a written order and not in the original stamped package. The court held that each provision of the Harrison Narcotic Act required proof of an additional fact that the other did not. Selling the proscribed drugs without their original packaging was not the same crime as selling them without a written order. Where two provisions of a statute contained different elements, prosecution and punishment under both of them did not result in double jeopardy.

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