Law School Case Brief
United States v. Dixon - 509 U.S. 688, 113 S. Ct. 2849 (1993)
In both the multiple punishment and multiple prosecution contexts, the court has concluded that where the two offenses for which the defendant is punished or tried cannot survive the "same-elements" test, the double jeopardy bar applies. The same-elements test, sometimes referred to as the "Blockburger" test, inquires whether each offense contains an element not contained in the other. If not, they are the "same offense" and double jeopardy bars additional punishment and successive prosecution.
Based on respondent Dixon's arrest and indictment for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, he was convicted of criminal contempt for violating a condition of his release on an unrelated offense forbidding him to commit "any criminal offense." The trial court later dismissed the cocaine indictment on double jeopardy grounds. Conversely, the trial court in respondent Foster's case ruled that double jeopardy did not require dismissal of a five-count indictment charging him with simple assault (Count I), threatening to injure another on three occasions (Counts II-IV), and assault with intent to kill (Count V), even though the events underlying the charges had previously prompted his trial for criminal contempt for violating a civil protection order (CPO) requiring him not to "'assault or in any manner threaten'" his estranged wife. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals consolidated the two cases on appeal and ruled that both subsequent prosecutions were barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause under Grady v. Corbin, 495 U.S. 508, 109 L. Ed. 2d 548, 110 S. Ct. 2084.
Did subsequent convictions for offenses that contained the same elements violate the Double Jeopardy Clause?
The Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The Court concluded that where the two offenses for which defendants were punished or tried could not survive the same-elements test, the double jeopardy bar applied. The same-elements test inquired whether each offense contained an element not contained in the other. If not, they were the same offense and double jeopardy barred additional punishment and successive prosecution. The Court overruled the same-conduct test. Because defendants' subsequent offenses did not include any element not contained in their previous contempt offenses, subsequent prosecutions violated the double jeopardy clause. The remaining counts were not barred under the same-elements test because the crimes were different offenses.
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