A defendant who has been acquitted in a court of law cannot be tried again for the same offense. That is the rule of double jeopardy and is constitutionally provided for the protection of the citizens of our society. The original intention was to safeguard the people from being harassed by an unchecked and over powerful government and to preserve the integrity of a trial by one’s peers.
Even if the prosecution discovers valid evidence that could influence a verdict of not guilty the double jeopardy standard stays in play. But since double jeopardy only applies to criminal cases a civil charge can still be brought against the defendant.
There are some other circumstances that may alter the way the double jeopardy clause applies. In some instances there may be more than one kind of charge for the same offense depending on the seriousness of the crime. Charges involving illegal drugs for example, often consider issues of severity so that if a defendant is found not guilty of possession he can still be tried for selling, or distribution of those drugs.
Furthermore, double jeopardy becomes a moot point with a change of jurisdiction. It cannot keep the federal government from prosecuting a defendant who has previously been found innocent by the state, or the other way around.
In order for double jeopardy to be the rule in a case it must be “attached.” Until it is any court actions taken by the prosecution will not fall under the scrutiny of the ordinance. This would allow a prosecuting attorney who decides to drop the charges brought against a defendant the right to retry that defendant at a future date.
In a trial by jury the judge will ordinarily attach a double jeopardy clause right after the swearing in of the members on the panel. If a defense attorney works out a plea agreement on behalf of his client the judge must acknowledge the plea in order for double jeopardy to go into effect.
The attorneys of the Parker Lawyers firm in Parker, CO are experienced in all areas of criminal and civil law. Call 303-841-9525.