Many people know that they have specific rights thanks to the Constitution of the United States. Freedom of speech is one of these, but there are others are very important for people who are facing criminal charges. The commonly thought of protections include the need for a warrant for a search without permission and the need for arrest warrants. There is another protection that can be very important — the protection against double jeopardy.
Double jeopardy occurs when you face criminal charges for the same criminal act more than once. For example, if you are found not guilty on an assault charge, prosecutors couldn’t levy that same charge against you for the same incident because you were already found not guilty.
The protection against double jeopardy has been clarified by the Supreme Court. Blockburger v. United States set some boundaries for what prosecutors are allowed to do. This ruling notes that prosecutors can levy more than one criminal charge against a person for a single incident as long as each charge has an element that isn’t present in the other charges.
This ruling allows prosecutors to levy drunk driving, rape and assault charges against a person if that person drives drunk, commits a rape and assaults a person who tries to stop the rape. This allows a jury to decide whether a person is guilty on each offense instead of only have one offense from the incident to consider.
Other concepts can also come into the picture when trying to determine if a case falls under the double jeopardy amendment. One of these is a ruling that notes the prosecution can’t come back after a not guilty finding and charge the person with a similar crime in connection with that same incident.
Anyone who is facing criminal charges should understand their rights. These rights play an important part in the justice system and should be adhered to and respected. Violations of these rights might be a factor in your defense.
Source: FindLaw, “Double Jeopardy: What Constitutes the Same Offense,” accessed Jan. 18, 2017
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