Double jeopardy is a legal term that refers to being prosecuted twice for the same offense. If you’ve ever watched a crime or courtroom drama on TV, you’ve probably heard the term – but a lot of people don’t understand what it means in a legal sense, so this guide explains.
What is Double Jeopardy?
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution has a double jeopardy clause which says that nobody can “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” What that means in modern English is that if you’re tried for a crime and acquitted, the state can re-try you for the same crime. This prevents prosecutors from putting people back through the legal system if they’re not happy with the outcome of a case – and it protects people from the financial and emotional toll of repeated prosecutions. It also preserves the “finality” of criminal proceedings – once you’re done, you’re done.
Can a Judge Throw Out a Case for Double Jeopardy?
Because the Constitution prevents the state from prosecuting you for the same offense twice, the court can throw out a case for double jeopardy. The state can only convict you once for the same crime – and it can’t prosecute you for a charge that was dismissed in a plea agreement, either. That means if you entered a plea agreement where you agreed to a conviction for one charge, and the state dismisses another charge connected to the same case, you can’t be prosecuted for the one the state dismissed.
Sometimes cases look like double jeopardy when they aren’t, though. For example, if you’re convicted of a crime but a case later gets thrown out, there’s a possibility that you can be retried for that offense. If you’re not sure, you should absolutely contact a Milwaukee criminal defense attorney – he or she can tell you whether something appears to be double jeopardy under the law.
Do You Think You’re a Victim of Double Jeopardy?
If you think you’re being subjected to double jeopardy, Gamino Law Offices may be able to help you. Call us right now at 414-383-6700 to set up your free consultation.