United States v. DiFrancesco

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:U.S. Department of State

DOCKET NO.: 79-567
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 449 US 117 (1980)
ARGUED: Oct 06, 1980
DECIDED: Dec 09, 1980

Mr. Andrew L. Frey – on behalf of the Petitioner
Edgar C. NeMoyer – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. DiFrancesco

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 06, 1980 in United States v. DiFrancesco

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – December 09, 1980 in United States v. DiFrancesco

Harry A. Blackmun:

The other case, Difrancesco against the United States comes to us by certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 grants the United States the right under specified conditions to appeal the sentence imposed upon what is described as a dangerous special offender.

And thus, the statute touches to a limited degree upon the concept of appellate review of sentences.

The respondent, Difrancesco was convicted of federal racketeering offenses at his trial on a federal court, and he was sentenced as a dangerous special offender to two 10-year prison terms to be served concurrently with each other and with a 9-year sentence previously imposed on other convictions at an unrelated federal trial.

The United States sought review claiming that the District Court had abused its discretion in imposing sentences that amounted to additional imprisonment for only one year in the face of the findings the Court made after the dangerous special offender hearing.

The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal on double jeopardy grounds and not on the merits and it is that issue, double jeopardy which comes here.

In an opinion filed with the clerk today and majority of us reverse that decision and remand the case for further proceedings.

We hold that the statute does not violate the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment.

We rule first that the statute does not violate the guarantee against multiple trials.

The Government’s appeal presents no threat of a successive prosecution just because its success might deprive the respondent with a benefit of a more lenient sentence and we rule second that the — an increase of the sentence of review does not constitute multiple punishment.

Here, Congress has specifically provided that the sentence is subject to appeal in any argument that the defendant precedes the length of his sentence as finally determined when he begins to serve it as no force where there can be no expectation of finality in the original sentence.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion and is joined therein by Mr. Justice White, Mr. Justice Marshall, and Mr. Justice Stevens, and Mr. Justice Stevens has also filed a separate dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.