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Ohio v. Johnson

Case Name
Ohio v. Johnson
467 U.S. 493
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
William Rehnquist
Judge(s) - Majority
William Rehnquist, Warren Burger, Byron White, Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell, Sandra Day O'Connor
Judge(s) - Concur
William Brennan (in part)
Judge(s) - Dissent
William Brennan (in part). John Paul Stevens, Thurgood Marshall
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
Ohio Supreme Court
Decision Year


An Ohio grand jury indicted defendant for murder, aggravated robbery, and their respective lesser-included offenses—involuntary manslaughter and grand theft. Defendant pleaded guilty to the lesser offenses and moved to dismiss the more serious charges, arguing that further prosecution was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Supreme Court of Ohio upheld the trial court’s grant of his motion, but the Supreme Court of the United States reversed. Though the Double Jeopardy Clause protects defendants against multiple punishments for the same offense and against second prosecutions for the same offense after acquittal or conviction, it does not prohibit the State from prosecuting defendants for the other offenses charged within a single prosecution. By dismissing the more serious charges, the trial court halted judicial proceedings and entirely prevented the rendering of a verdict of guilt or innocence. A defendant’s pleading guilty to lesser-included offenses does not create an “implied acquittal” of the greater offenses still pending.

Key Quote

“[Defendant’s] argument is apparently based on the assumption that trial proceedings, like amoebae, are capable of being infinitely subdivided, so that a determination of guilt and punishment on one count of a multicount indictment immediately raises a double jeopardy bar to continued prosecution on any remaining counts that are greater or lesser included offenses of the charge just concluded. We have never held that, and decline to hold it now.” p.501