When a person is acquitted of a crime, the “double jeopardy” rule prevents that person from being recharged with that same crime at a later time, even if new evidence is found. Double jeopardy, however, only applies to one specific jurisdiction. Even if a person is acquitted of a federal crime, they might still be charged with that same crime on the state level.
Understanding the double jeopardy rule
While the double jeopardy rule protects defendants from being charged multiple times for the same crime on a federal level or on a state level, there is still a possibility that an individual will be prosecuted from a different jurisdiction.
Say you were charged with holding up a truck and stealing its contents. If your charges were brought by the state and you are acquitted, you cannot be charged again by the state for that theft.
But you CAN be charged by the federal government. If that truck was engaged in interstate travel, well, now it’s a federal crime, too. And no matter what happened in the trial with the state, the feds can still charge you with a theft crime – not to mention any additional hijacking/weapons charges that may apply.
How is this situation legal?
The Fifth Amendment clearly states that a person acquitted of a crime shall not be charged with that same crime at a later date. However, the state jurisdiction is separate from the federal jurisdiction, under the dual sovereignty doctrine – a rule that essentially allows the state and federal governments to operate (somewhat) independently, to ensure that each can keep the other in check.
As a result, someone who is acquitted of a crime on a federal level could find out that they are being charged on a state level with the same crime.
If you were charged with a crime, acquitted, and are now being charged again, you want to know why the double jeopardy rule does not apply to your situation. If you are concerned about the potential consequences that would come along with a guilty verdict, hire a Knoxville criminal defense attorney to work on your case. At Banks & Jones, we will remain dedicated to fighting for you, regardless of the situation you are in. When you need professional legal help and you want attorneys that are aggressive, knowledgeable, and ready to put up a fight, reach out by calling 865-407-2122 or by completing a contact form online.