Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Entry of dual convictions for bank robbery and armed bank robbery violated Double Jeopardy Clause

Defendant Donald Cesare pled guilty to a two-count information charging him with bank robbery (18 U.S.C. § 2113(a)) and armed bank robbery (18 U.S.C. § 2113(d)). He was sentenced, over defense counsel's objection, to two concurrent terms of 53 months imprisonment and ordered to pay a special assessment of $200 - $100 for each count. On appeal, the Government conceded that Cesare improperly received concurrent sentences in violation of double jeopardy because bank robbery is a lesser included offense of armed bank robbery, but argued that the two separate $100 special assessments be left intact because special assessments are not punishment.

The Third Circuit, in United States v. Cesare, No. 08-2749, disagreed with the Government's position regarding the special assessments, holding that the entry of separate convictions, including separate special assessments, threatened the defendant with "potential adverse collateral consequences." As such, the two separate special assessments constituted impermissible double punishments offending double jeopardy. Accordingly, the Third Circuit remanded this matter to the district court with instructions to vacate the defendant's armed robbery conviction.

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