Court Limits When Multiple Punishments Allowed For Single Act

1980

In Whalen v. United States, a defendant is convicted of rape and “felony murder” – meaning that he committed murder in the course of committing the rape (called a “lesser included offense”). The U.S. Supreme Court rules that imposing a sentence for both crimes violates the double jeopardy clause. The Court says that such multiple punishments arising out of the same incident are permissible only when the multiple crimes are different (as in Blockburger, 1932, and Gore, 1958), not when one crime is a necessary element of the other one, as is the case in felony murder.