United States v. Felix

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Northern District Court of New York

DOCKET NO.: 90-1599
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 503 US 378 (1992)
ARGUED: Jan 14, 1992
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1992

Scott M. Anderson - on behalf of the Respondent
William C. Bryson - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Felix

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 14, 1992 in United States v. Felix

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 25, 1992 in United States v. Felix

William H. Rehnquist:

The second of the cases is United States versus Felix, No. 90-1599.

During the summer of 1987, respondent, Frank Felix, manufactured methamphetamine in a place in Beggs, Oklahoma.

In July of that year, drug enforcement agents raided the facilities and shut it down but they did not catch Felix.

Desiring to continue his drug manufacturing business Felix, thereupon, ordered additional chemicals and equipment from a DEA informant and arranged for their delivery to a Joplin, Missouri hotel late in August.

Federal officials watched the delivery, arrested Felix, and charged him with attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.

At his trial in a Missouri Federal Court for that crime, Felix argued that he had ordered the items only because he mistakenly believed he was working in a covert DEA operation.

To counter this argument and prove Felix's criminal intent, the government introduced evidence concerning Felix's involvement in the production of methamphetamine earlier in the year in Oklahoma.

The jury convicted Felix and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed that conviction.

Later, the government indicted Felix in Oklahoma charging him with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine as well as with five other substantive and drug offenses.

These charges were based for the most part on Felix's involvement in the Beggs, Oklahoma methamphetamine lab in early 1987.

However, two of the acts supported in the conspiracy charge were based on the same conduct for which Felix have been previously prosecuted in the Missouri trial, and the evidence introduced against Felix at the Oklahoma trial was very similar to that used in the Missouri trial.

The jury convicted Felix but the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed in part.

It held that the subsequent prosecution of Felix was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution which forbids the duplicative prosecution of a defendant for the same offense.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we reverse the Court of Appeals and hold that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar Felix's prosecution on either the substantive drug offenses or the conspiracy charge.

The substantive offenses with which Felix was charged in Oklahoma differed entirely in time and place from the offense for which he was prosecuted in Missouri, and a mere overlap in proof between two prosecutions does not establish a double jeopardy violation.

And in light of our longstanding rule, the substantive crime in a conspiracy to commit the crime are not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes, it is also clear that the government did not violate Felix's double jeopardy rights by prosecuting him in Oklahoma on the conspiracy charge.

Justice Stevens has filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment in which Justice Blackmun has joined.