North Carolina v. Pearce Case Brief

Why is the case important?

The defendants, Clifton Pearce (“Mr. Pearce”) and William Rice (“Mr. Rice”) (collectively referred to as the “defendants”), successfully overturned initial convictions only to be reconvicted with longer sentences without credit for time served.

Facts of the case


Whether the double jeopardy provision of the United States Constitution (Constitution) mandates the judge imposing the second sentence to give credit for time served?


The double jeopardy provision of the Constitution does mandate that credit for time served be applied to a reconviction sentence.


“The Court affirmed the appellate court’s decisions reversing the convictions and sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s decisions. The constitutional guarantee against multiple punishments for the same offense required that punishment already exacted had to be fully “”credited”” in imposing sentence upon a new conviction for the same offense. Neither the double jeopardy provision of the Constitution nor the Equal Protection Clause imposed an absolute bar to a more severe sentence upon a defendant’s reconviction. However, due process of law required that vindictiveness against a defendant for having successfully attacked his first conviction had to play no part in the sentence he received after a new trial. Due process also required that a defendant be freed of apprehension of such a retaliatory motivation on the part of the sentencing judge. The State failed to offer adequate reasons to impose increased sentences upon defendants.”

  • Case Brief: 1969
  • Petitioner: North Carolina
  • Respondent: Pearce
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 395 US 711 (1969)
Argued: Feb 24, 1969
Decided: Jun 23, 1969