Iannelli v. United States

RESPONDENT:United States
LOCATION:Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

DOCKET NO.: 73-64
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 420 US 770 (1975)
ARGUED: Dec 17, 1974
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1975

James E. McLaughlin – for petitioners
Mark L. Evans – for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Iannelli v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 17, 1974 in Iannelli v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 25, 1975 in Iannelli v. United States

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

In 73-64, Iannelli against the United States, we have a case which came to us on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit.

Petitioners were indicted and tried for a conspiracy to violate the federal gambling law and also for the substantive offense of violating such law.

Each petitioner was convicted on both offenses and sentenced therefore.

There is a doctrine of criminal law called Wharton’s Rule relied upon by petitioners in this case.

Under that rule, two persons who commit a particular crime cannot be prosecuted both for the crime and for the conspiracy to commit it when the crime by its nature requires the participation of the same two people.

Classic examples of Wharton’s Rule are the crimes of adultery and bigamy.

We view the rule in the context of this case as essentially an aid to legislative intent.

There are significant differences in the characteristics and consequences between traditional Wharton’s Rule type offenses and a large scale gambling activities sought to be reached by this federal law.

In view of these differences as well as the purpose and legislative history of the law, we concluded that Congress intended to allow separate convictions and penalties for the conspiracy as well as for the substantive offense for violations of the gambling law.

Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice Douglas filed a dissenting opinion in part two of which Mr. Justice Stewart and Mr. Justice Marshall joined.

Mr. Justice Brennan also filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.