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26 U. Fla. L. Rev. 367 (1973-1974)
Criminal Law: Cumulative Sentencing for Offenses within a Single Transaction

handle is hein.journals/uflr26 and id is 379 raw text is: CASE COMMENTS

Edmond v. State, 280 So. 2d 449 (2d D.CA. Fla. 1973), cert. denied,
287 So. 2d 690 (Fla. 1973)
Defendant was convicted of breaking and entering with intent to commit
a felony, possession of burglary tools, and grand larceny. The trial court im-
posed consecutive maximum terms for each offense. Defendant appealed, as-
signing as error the imposition of sentences for the latter two counts. The ap-
pellate court reversed and HELD, where possession of burglary tools and
grand larceny constitute facets of a unitary criminal transaction culminating
in the offense of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, the
trial court could impose only one sentence, which could not exceed the max-
imum term for the most serious charge proved.1
A single course of criminal conduct frequently comprehends more than
one statutory offense. It is settled law that a defendant may be tried for and
convicted of each offense committed during a criminal transaction,2 but there
is little agreement whether he may be sentenced for more than one such of-
fense3 or whether multiple sentences, if imposed, should be consecutive or
concurrent.4 Some courts that impose multiple sentences for offenses within a
single transaction fail to distinguish cases in which the defendant has com-
mitted unrelated crimes,5 citing public policy0 or the discretionary power of
common law courts in sentencing7 to justify this practice.
Some courts have recognized, however, that cumulative sentencing for of-
fenses within the same transaction may impose excessive or arbitrary punish-
ment,8 and a few states have enacted legislation that prohibits sentencing
under more than one statute for a single criminal transaction.9 Other states
1. 280 So. 2d 449 (2d D.CA. Fla. 1973), cert. denied, 287 So. 2d 690 (Fla. 1973).
2. Cone v. State, 285 So. 2d 12 (Fla. 1973); State v. Willhite, 40 N.J. Super. 405, 123 A.2d
237 (Somerset & Morris County Ct., L. Div. 1956).
3. Compare Williams v. State, 205 Md. 470, 109 A.2d 89 (1954), with People v. Florio,
301 N.Y. 46, 92 N.E.2d 881 (1950).
4. Compare People ex rel. Maurer v. Jackson, 2 N.Y.2d 259, 140 N.E.2d 282 (1957), with
Williams v. State, 321 P.2d 990 (Crim. App. Okla. 1957), affd, 358 U.S. 576 (1958).
5. See, e.g., State v. Hutton, 87 Ariz. 176, 349 P.2d 187 (1960); Williams v. State, 205 Md.
470, 109 A.2d 89 (1954); State v. Byra, 128 N.J.L. 429, 26 A.2d 702 (Sup. Ct. 1942), af'd,
30 A.2d 49 (Ct. Err. & App. N.J. 1943), cert. denied, 324 U.S. 884 (1944); Rogerson v. Harris,
111 Utah 330, 178 P.2d 397 (1947).
6. Mead v. State, 489 P.2d 738, 743 (Alas. 1971).
7. See, e.g., Williams v. State, 205 Md. 470, 109 A.2d 89 (1954); State ex rel Meininger
v. Breuer, 304 Mo. 381, 264 S.W. 1 (1924). See also Sherman v. United States, 241 F.2d 329
(9th Cir.), cert. denied, 354 U.S. 911, rehearing denied, 355 U.S. 852 (1957); Ex parte Sabongy,
18 N.J. Super. 334, 87 A.2d 59 (1952).
8. Munson v. McClaughry, 198 F. 72 (8th Cir. 1912); Wilson v. State, 24 Conn. 56 (1855)
(Waite, C.J. dissenting).
9. E.g., CAL. PEN. CoDE §654 (West 1970), which provides in part: [A]n act ... which
is made punishable in different ways by different provisions of this Code may be punished


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