When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, they may only be charged with some of the crimes they are suspected of committing when they go to trial. The reason for that is that it allows prosecutors another opportunity to put a defendant on trial without risking double jeopardy. To find out more, read on.
Why Double Jeopardy is Important
When the Constitution was created, the framers used some old laws as a guidepost of what not to do. Before double jeopardy laws came about, those arrested might be tried time and time and again for the same crime in an effort to gain a conviction. Double jeopardy laws prevent defendants from being put through a trial under the same charges more than once. That can, however, lead to some prosecutors parsing out the charges and trying defendants with an eye toward making some of them stick and leading to a conviction.
How You Are Protected
Those arrested and charged are provided with many rights and double jeopardy is an important one. Here is how this right is used:
- You cannot be tried more than once for the same offense. You can, however, be tried for the same offense stemming from a different incident.
- You cannot be tried again for a crime of which you were previously found innocent. However, you may be tried for other counts of the same offense during the same incident.
- You cannot be tried more than once for a crime to which you have already been sentenced. However, you can stand trial for an offense stemming from the same incident but with different charges. For example, you can be tried for the robbery of a senior citizen and sentenced. Then, you may also have to stand trial for the assault of the same senior citizen.
Criminal and Civil Matters
The above courts are known as venues, and they operate using different rules and laws. It's entirely possible to be tried for homicide and found innocent. Then, a defendant can be tried in a civil court for the wrongful death of the same victim. That is not considered double jeopardy. Many criminal matters are closely related to civil matters. However, it's impossible to personally punish a person any other way than financially using the civil courts.
If you have been accused of a crime, you could be facing serious consequences. Speak to a criminal defense lawyer to find out more.