MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
While serving a term of imprisonment in a North Carolina penitentiary, the respondent Perry became involved in an altercation with another inmate. A warrant issued, charging Perry with the misdemeanor of assault with a deadly weapon, N. C. Gen. Stat. § 14-33 (b) (1) (1969). Under North Carolina law, the District Court Division of the General Court of Justice has exclusive jurisdiction for the trial of misdemeanors. N. C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-272. Following a trial without a jury in the District Court of Northampton County, Perry was convicted of this misdemeanor and given a six-month sentence, to be served after completion of the prison term he was then serving.
Perry then filed a notice of appeal to the Northampton County Superior Court. Under North Carolina law, a person convicted in the District Court has a right to a trial de novo in the Superior Court. N. C. Gen. Stat. §§ 7A-290, 15-177.1. The right to trial de novo is absolute, there being no need for the appellant to allege error in the original proceeding. When an appeal is taken, the statutory scheme provides that the slate is wiped clean; the prior conviction is annulled, and the prosecution and the defense begin anew in the Superior Court.
A number of months later, the respondent filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He claimed that the indictment on the felony charge in the Superior Court constituted double jeopardy and also deprived him of due process of law. In an unreported opinion, the District Court dismissed the petition for failure to exhaust available state remedies. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
On remand, the District Court granted the writ. It held that the bringing of the felony charge after the filing of the appeal violated Perry's rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, made applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784. The District Court further held that the respondent had not, by his guilty plea in the Superior Court, waived his right to raise his constitutional claims in the federal habeas corpus proceeding. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in a brief per curiam opinion. We granted certiorari, 414 U.S. 908, to consider the seemingly important issues presented by this case.
As in the District Court, Perry directs two independent constitutional attacks upon the conduct of the
Perry's due process arguments are derived substantially from North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, and its progeny. In Pearce, the Court considered the constitutional problems presented when, following a successful appeal and reconviction, a criminal defendant was subjected to a greater punishment than that imposed at the first trial. While we concluded that such a harsher sentence was not absolutely precluded by either the Double Jeopardy or Due Process Clause, we emphasized that "imposition of a penalty upon the defendant for having successfully pursued a statutory right of appeal or collateral remedy would be . . . a violation of due process of law." Id., at 724. Because "vindictiveness against a defendant for having successfully attacked his first conviction must play no part in the sentence he receives
In Colten v. Kentucky, 407 U.S. 104, the Court was called upon to decide the applicability of the Pearce holding to Kentucky's two-tiered system of criminal adjudication. Kentucky, like North Carolina, allows a misdemeanor defendant convicted in an inferior trial court to seek a trial de novo in a court of general jurisdiction.
The Pearce decision was again interpreted by this Court last Term in Chaffin v. Stynchcombe, 412 U.S. 17, in the setting of Georgia's system under which sentencing responsibility is entrusted to the jury. Upon retrial following the reversal of his original conviction, the
The lesson that emerges from Pearce, Colten, and Chaffin is that the Due Process Clause is not offended by all possibilities of increased punishment upon retrial after appeal, but only by those that pose a realistic likelihood of "vindictiveness." Unlike the circumstances presented by those cases, however, in the situation here the central figure is not the judge or the jury, but the prosecutor. The question is whether the opportunities for vindictiveness in this situation are such as to impel the conclusion that due process of law requires a rule analogous to that of the Pearce case. We conclude that the answer must be in the affirmative.
A prosecutor clearly has a considerable stake in discouraging convicted misdemeanants from appealing and thus obtaining a trial de novo in the Superior Court, since such an appeal will clearly require increased expenditures of prosecutorial resources before the defendant's conviction becomes final, and may even result in a formerly convicted defendant's going free. And, if the prosecutor has the means readily at hand to discourage such
There is, of course, no evidence that the prosecutor in this case acted in bad faith or maliciously in seeking a felony indictment against Perry. The rationale of our judgment in the Pearce case, however, was not grounded upon the proposition that actual retaliatory motivation must inevitably exist. Rather, we emphasized that "since the fear of such vindictiveness may unconstitutionally deter a defendant's exercise of the right to appeal or collaterally attack his first conviction, due process also requires that a defendant be freed of apprehension of such a retaliatory motivation on the part of the sentencing judge." 395 U. S., at 725. We think it clear that the same considerations apply here. A person convicted of an offense is entitled to pursue his statutory right to a trial de novo, without apprehension that the State will retaliate by substituting a more serious charge for the original one, thus subjecting him to a significantly increased potential period of incarceration.
Due process of law requires that such a potential for vindictiveness must not enter into North Carolina's two-tiered appellate process. We hold, therefore, that it was not constitutionally permissible for the State to respond
The remaining question is whether, because of his guilty plea to the felony charge in the Superior Court, Perry is precluded from raising his constitutional claims in this federal habeas corpus proceeding. In contending that such is the case, petitioners rely chiefly on this Court's decision last Term in Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258.
The precise issue presented in Tollett was "whether a state prisoner, pleading guilty with the advice of counsel, may later obtain release through federal habeas corpus by proving only that the indictment to which he pleaded was returned by an unconstitutionally selected grand jury." Id., at 260. The Court answered that question in the negative. Relying primarily on the guilty-plea trilogy of Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, and Parker v. North Carolina, 397 U.S. 790, the Court characterized the guilty plea as "a break in the chain of events which has preceded it in the criminal process." 411 U. S., at 267. Accordingly, the Court held that when a criminal defendant enters a guilty plea, "he may not thereafter raise independent claims relating to the deprivation of constitutional
While petitioners' reliance upon the Tollett opinion is understandable, there is a fundamental distinction between this case and that one. Although the underlying claims presented in Tollett and the Brady trilogy were of constitutional dimensions, none went to the very power of the State to bring the defendant into court to answer the charge brought against him. The defendants in McMann v. Richardson, for example, could surely have been brought to trial without the use of the allegedly coerced confessions, and even a tainted indictment of the sort alleged in Tollett could have been "cured" through a new indictment by a properly selected grand jury. In the case at hand, by contrast, the nature of the underlying constitutional infirmity is markedly different. Having chosen originally to proceed on the misdemeanor charge in the District Court; the State of North Carolina was, under the facts of this case, simply precluded by the Due Process Clause from calling upon the respondent to answer to the more serious charge in the Superior Court. Unlike the defendant in Tollett, Perry is not complaining of "antecedent constitutional violations" or of a "deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred prior to the entry of the guilty plea." 411 U. S., at 266, 267. Rather, the right that he asserts and that we today accept is the right not to be haled into court at all upon the felony charge. The very initiation of the proceedings against
Last Term in Robinson v. Neil, 409 U.S. 505, in explaining why the Double Jeopardy Clause is distinctive, the Court noted that "its practical result is to prevent a trial from taking place at all, rather than to prescribe procedural rules that govern the conduct of a trial." Id., at 509. While our judgment today is not based upon the Double Jeopardy Clause, we think that the quoted language aptly describes the due process right upon which our judgment is based. The "practical result" dictated by the Due Process Clause in this case is that North Carolina simply could not permissibly require Perry to answer to the felony charge. That being so, it follows that his guilty plea did not foreclose him from attacking his conviction in the Superior Court proceedings through a federal writ of habeas corpus.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST, dissenting.
I would find it more difficult than the Court apparently does in Part I of its opinion to conclude that the very bringing of more serious charges against respondent following his request for a trial de novo violated due process as defined in North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969). Still more importantly, I believe the Court's conclusion that respondent may assert the Court's new-found Pearce claim in this federal habeas action, despite his plea of guilty to the charges brought after his invocation of his statutory right to a trial de novo, marks an unwarranted departure from the principles we have recently enunciated in Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258 (1973), and the Brady trilogy, Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742 (1970); McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759 (1970); and Parker v. North Carolina, 397 U.S. 790 (1970).
As the Court notes, in addition to his claim based on Pearce, respondent contends that his felony indictment in the Superior Court violated his rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, made applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784 (1969). Presumably because we have earlier held that "the jeopardy incident to" a trial does "not extend to an offense beyond [the trial court's] jurisdiction," Diaz v. United States, 223 U.S. 442, 449 (1912), the Court rests its decision instead on the Fourteenth Amendment due process doctrine of Pearce. In so doing, I think the Court too readily equates the role of the prosecutor, who is a natural adversary of the defendant and who, we observed in
The concurring opinion in Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 726, took the position that the imposition of a penalty after retrial which exceeded the penalty imposed after the first trial violated the guarantee against double jeopardy. But the opinion of the Court, relying on cases such as United States v. Ball, 163 U.S. 662 (1896), and Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15 (1919), specifically rejected such an approach to the case. The Court went on to hold "that neither the double jeopardy provision nor the Equal Protection Clause imposes an absolute bar to a more severe sentence upon reconviction." 395 U. S., at 723. The Court concluded by holding that due process "requires that vindictiveness against a defendant for having successfully attacked his first conviction must play no part in the sentence he receives after a new trial. And since the fear of such vindictiveness may unconstitutionally deter a defendant's exercise of the right to appeal or collaterally attack his first conviction, due process also requires that a defendant be freed of apprehension of such a retaliatory motivation on the part of the sentencing judge." Id., at 725. To make certain that those requirements of due process were met, the Court laid down the rule that "whenever a judge imposes a more severe sentence upon a defendant after
Since in theory if not in practice the second sentence in the Pearce situation might be expected to be the same as the first unless influenced by vindictiveness or by intervening conduct of the defendant, in theory at least the remedy mandated there reached no further than the identified wrong. The same cannot be said here. For while indictment on more serious charges after a successful appeal would present a problem closely analogous to that in Pearce in this respect, the bringing of more serious charges after a defendant's exercise of his absolute right to a trial de novo in North Carolina's two-tier system does not. The prosecutor here elected to proceed initially in the State District Court where felony charges could not be prosecuted, for reasons which may well have been unrelated to whether he believed respondent was guilty of and could be convicted of the felony with which he was later charged. Both prosecutor and defendant stand to benefit from an initial prosecution in the District Court, the prosecutor at least from its less burdensome procedures and the defendant from the opportunity for an initial acquittal and the limited penalties. With the countervailing reasons for proceeding only on the misdemeanor charge in the District Court no longer applicable once the defendant has invoked his statutory right to a trial de novo, a prosecutor need not be vindictive to seek to indict and convict a defendant of the more serious of the two crimes of which he believes him guilty. Thus even if one accepts the Court's equation of prosecutorial vindictiveness with judicial vindictiveness, here, unlike Pearce, the Court's remedy reaches far beyond the wrong it identifies.
If the Court is correct in stating the consequences of upholding respondent's constitutional claim here, and indeed the State lacked the very power to bring him to trial, I believe this case is governed by cases culminating in Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258 (1973). In that case the State no doubt lacked "power" to bring Henderson to trial without a valid grand jury indictment; yet that constitutional disability was held by us to be merged in the guilty plea. I do not see why a constitutional claim the consequences of which make it the identical twin of double jeopardy may not, like double jeopardy, be waived by the person for whose benefit it is accorded. Kepner v. United States, 195 U.S. 100, 131 (1904); Harris v. United States, 237 F.2d 274, 277 (CA8 1956); Kistner v. United States, 332 F.2d 978, 980 (CA8 1964).
In Tollett v. Henderson, supra, we held that "just as the guilty pleas in the Brady trilogy were found to foreclose direct inquiry into the merits of claimed antecedent constitutional violations there, . . . respondent's guilty plea here alike forecloses independent inquiry into the claim of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury." 411 U. S., at 266. Surely the due process violation found by the Court today is no less "antecedent" than the constitutional violations claimed to make the
The assertion by the Court that this reasoning is somehow inapplicable here because the claim goes "to the very power of the State to bring the defendant into court to answer the charge brought against him" is little other than a conclusion. Any difference between the issue resolved the other way in Tollett v. Henderson and the issue before us today is at most semantic. But the Court's "test" not only fails to distinguish Henderson; it also fails to provide any reasoned basis on which to approach such questions as whether a speedy trial claim is merged in a guilty plea. I believe the Court's departure today from the principles of Henderson and the cases preceding it must be recognized as a potentially major breach in the wall of certainty surrounding guilty pleas for which we have found constitutional sanction in those cases.
There is no indication in this record that respondent's guilty plea was the result of an agreement with the prosecutor.
But if, as I believe, a proper analysis of respondent's constitutional claim produces at most a violation of the standards laid down in North Carolina v. Pearce, supra, I agree with the Court, though not for the reasons it gives, that respondent's claim was not merged in his guilty plea. Imposition of sentence in violation of Pearce is not an "antecedent constitutional violation," since sentence is customarily imposed after a plea of guilty, and is a separate legal event from the determination by the Court that the defendant is in fact guilty of the offense with which he is charged.
If respondent's claim is properly analyzed in terms of Pearce, I would think that a result quite different from that mandated in the Court's opinion would obtain. Pearce and the decisions following it have made it clear that the wrong lies in the increased sentence, not in the judgment of conviction, and that the remedy for a Pearce defect is a remand for sentencing consistent with due
Since Rice had completely served his sentence, rather than reaching the merits of Rice's Pearce claim, we remanded for a determination whether any collateral consequences flowed from his service of the longer sentence imposed after retrial, or whether the case was moot.
Here, while respondent faced the prospect of a more severe sentence at the conclusion of his felony trial in the Superior Court of North Carolina, it was by no means self-evident that this would be the result. The maximum sentence which he could receive on the misdemeanor count was one and one-half years, but nothing in the record indicates that the Superior Court judge might not impose a lesser penalty than that, or even grant probation. Nor is there any indication in the habeas record, which contains only a fragment of the state court proceedings, that the Superior Court judge might not at the conclusion of the trial and after a verdict of guilty have before him for sentencing purposes information which would support an augmented sentence under Pearce. In fact, the habeas court found that the sentence actually
MR. JUSTICE POWELL joins in Part II of this opinion.
Subsequently, in Colten v. Kentucky, 407 U.S. 104, we dealt with the merits of this issue, and held that the imposition of an increased sentence on trial de novo did not violate either the Due Process or the Double Jeopardy Clause. The District Court in the present case had the benefit of the Colten decision before issuing its opinion granting habeas corpus relief.
The dissenting opinion also seems to misconceive the nature of the due process right at stake here. If this were a case involving simply an increased sentence violative of the Pearce rule, a remand for resentencing would be in order. Our holding today, however, is not that Perry was denied due process by the length of the sentence imposed by the Superior Court, but rather by the very institution of the felony indictment against him. While we reach this conclusion in partial reliance on the analogy of Pearce and its progeny, the due process violation here is not the same as was involved in those cases, and cannot be remedied solely through a resentencing procedure in the Superior Court. Cf. n. 6, supra.