Double Jeopardy and the Fifth Amendment

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by Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers George E. Tragos & Peter A. Sartes

The doctrine of double jeopardy is one of the many safeguards against prosecutorial abuse that the United States Constitution provides. Although the idea of double jeopardy is not unique to the United States, it represents a key right of American citizens, particularly those who have been accused of crimes.

The double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment states that: “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” As part of the highest law in the land, this clause ensures that no person can be charged and tried for the same crime more than once. This provision is a vital part of the American justice system because it prevents prosecutors from subjecting a defendant to trial after trial until a jury finally returns a guilty verdict.

The appeals system also reflects the principles of double jeopardy protection. While a defendant almost always has the right to appeal his or her conviction to a higher court, prosecutors are generally forbidden from appealing the acquittal, whether explicit or implicit, of a defendant. This protection has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court in cases such as Fong Foo v. United States and Arizona v. Rumsey.

There are, however, several exceptions to the protection extended by the double jeopardy clause. For example, a person can be prosecuted twice for the same action, as long as that action violates two distinct statutes and meets the conditions set forth by the Supreme Court in Blockburger v. United States, that “each provision requires proof of an additional fact which the other does not.”

For more information on the legal protections provided by the Fifth Amendment, contact Clearwater defense attorneys Tragos, Sartes & Tragos, P.L.L.C. at 727-441-9030 today.

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