Double jeopardy is somewhat of a buzz term that gets tossed around media and casual conversation. However, double jeopardy is a specific legal defense that is outlined in the U.S. Constitution and has been indoctrinated into state law. Here, we will dissect the meaning of this term and how it is actually used in court proceedings.
What is it?
Double jeopardy is used to protect defendants from having to deal with court proceedings focused on the same crime. Basically, if a person is found innocent of a crime they can’t continue to have to go to court to defend themselves against the same offense. The idea here is that it protects people from the courts having too much power over the proceedings or a person having to continuously fight for their freedom.
How is it used?
The double jeopardy clause is outlined in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but it has also been adopted by the states. Specifically, the Florida Constitution also includes this clause. This type of defense can be used in misdemeanor or felony cases where the outcome is to punish the individual.
Things to Consider
Protection against double jeopardy can only occur once it has been attached to a case. Attachment occurs once a jury has been selected and sworn in. If it is just a trial by judge, then the attachment occurs once the first witness is sworn in. In the event the case is in plea bargain, attachment occurs once the court accepts the plea. Please note: double jeopardy is not the same as a mistrial. A mistrial may occur due to a hung jury or a mishandling of the process of justice. In the event of a mistrial, a person can be tried again. Also, a person can be charged with various crimes from the same event if the crimes can be distinguished. The crimes are determined to be separate if they each lack something that the other offense does not. Additionally, double jeopardy protects a defendant from being tried for a harsher crime after being convicted of a lesser crime. For example, if a defendant is found guilty of second-degree murder, they cannot later be tried under the same case for first-degree murder.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Being tried for the same criminal charges can happen easier than you think. Do you know your rights? If you are located in the Palm Beach, Florida area and in need of quality legal defense, you should reach out to a seasoned attorney. Scott Skier has years of experience with defending people from a variety of charges. Attorney Skier can help you through the legal process from start to finish and make sure that you understand the process completely. Courtrooms can be an intimidating place, so you should have an attorney who can rise to the challenge. Contact him today for a no obligation consultation. Your future may depend on it.