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What is Double Jeopardy?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

January 4, 2022

And we’re not talking about the evening trivia show. Double jeopardy has another meaning in criminal law.

The Double Jeopardy Clause

The Double Jeopardy Clause within the Fifth Amendment protects citizens from being prosecuted and punished for the same crime. This is only applicable to criminal cases, not civil law.

The individual cannot be tried for the same offense:

  • After being found innocent
  • After being convicted
  • If the prosecutors bring forward a different charge for the same offense

Multiple Charges for the Same Crime

While individuals cannot be prosecuted multiple times for the same crime, they can still face multiple charges for different offenses occurring at the same time. For example, if someone is charged for DUI and drug possession at the same time. However, they cannot be tried for DUI twice stemming from the same incident.

The Purpose of the Double Jeopardy Clause

This clause seeks to protect citizens in multiple ways. First, going through criminal proceedings is a mentally and financially taxing experience. If you have ever been faced with criminal charges, you know this firsthand. Preventing individuals from being prosecuted multiple times for the same crime limits the amount of trauma that an intense criminal trial can cause.

The clause also provides balance for the court system. If the judge rules to dismiss a case, and prosecutors want to pursue charges again with a different strategy, they cannot. If they could, this could be a neverending cycle until the prosecutors get the outcome they desire. Instead, the double jeopardy clause ensures that the decisions made by the judge and jury hold substantial weight.

Exceptions to Double Jeopardy

There are a couple of exceptions to the double jeopardy rule.

  • Different jurisdictions: if a crime occurred in more than one jurisdiction, the individual might face charges in both areas without it being considered double jeopardy.
  • State and Federal: individuals can be charged for the same crime in State and Federal court. If they are found innocent in one system, they can still be charged in the other.

Daytona Beach Criminal Defense

If you are facing criminal charges in Volusia County, contact our defense team at Hager & Schwartz, P.A.. We handled a wide range of criminal offenses, including DUI, drug crimes, domestic violence, and much more. To learn more about our team and how we can help you through your legal proceedings, click here.