Double jeopardy is a concept common in many countries as a protection to people. It is a procedural defense that rests on an individual’s constitutional right. It forbids the government, state, or prosecutor to try an individual for the same crime on the same set of facts repeatedly.
In the United States, the concept of double jeopardy stems from the 5th Amendment. While this was originally applicable only to the federal government, the 14th Amendment as well as the Supreme Court’s rulings has determined that states must follow the principle as well. The clause in the 5th amendment is intended to limit abuses by the government in repeated prosecution as a means of harassment or oppression.
There are three essential protections included in the principle of double jeopardy. They are: retrial of a crime after an acquittal, retrial of a crime after a conviction, and punishment multiple times for the same offense. These three things are prohibited by the principle of double jeopardy.
The defense of double jeopardy is sometimes referred to as a legal technicality. It allows a defendant a defense that doesn’t address whether the crime was actually committed. For example, if an individual is acquitted of an offense and then police find new evidence that conclusively proves the guild of someone that has already been acquitted, the police can’t do much since the defendant may not be charged twice of the same crime or substantially the same crime.
It is important to note that the double jeopardy defense does not apply in all situations. It does not apply if the first trial ended in a mistrial. This is because there was never a verdict returned on the case so the defendant has not been ruled guilty or not guilty. A dismissal due to insufficient evidence also allows for a second trial. If there is fraud anywhere in the trial (such as bribing a judge), the case can be re-tried. The last instance is when a case is overturned by an appeals court. This allows for a new trial since the first verdict was invalidated when the appeals court ruled.
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