Under Federal law, “Double Jeopardy” is a type of defense that prohibits a defendant from being tried twice for the same crime. The Double Jeopardy Clause is part of the Fifth Amendment in the United States Constitution and was ultimately enacted to protect defendants from abuses of state power and to promote the finalization of judgments.

Double Jeopardy in the United States

Double jeopardy differs by country. However, in the United States, the Double Jeopardy Clause encompasses four different prohibitions:

  • Subsequent prosecution after acquittal
  • Subsequent prosecution after conviction
  • Subsequent prosecution after certain mistrials
  • Multiple punishment in the same indictment

When Is Double Jeopardy Relevant to a Legal Case?

Double Jeopardy does not apply until jeopardy has “attached.” This essentially means that a defendant’s Double Jeopardy rights are implicated because the proceedings have progressed. Double Jeopardy must be legally attached or else there is no violation and no bar to hold a retrial.

There are rules that apply for special scenarios however—for example, if a defendant’s trial begins and then is cut short due to a mistrial, the defendant could possibly be tried again. In addition, if a mistrial is caused by “manifest necessity” or a “hung jury,” the defendant may be tried again. While the above holds true, what determines when Double Jeopardy comes in play is the context of the trial and other factors.

Double Jeopardy “attaches” to a trial during the following situations:

  • When the jury is selected and sworn in
  • When evidence begins being presented after the first witness has been sworn in
  • When a defendant’s plea is unconditionally accepted

Double Jeopardy does not attach in…

  • In a conviction retrial where the conviction was reversed on appeal
  • In a retrial following a mistrial where manifest necessity occurred
  • In the seating of a second grand jury

Double Jeopardy in Florida

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment can be applied to any proceeding in the state of Florida where the sole purpose is punishment. This essentially means that all misdemeanor and felony prosecutions are protected under the Double Jeopardy Clause. This holds true whether the prosecution happens at the Federal or State level.

The Double Jeopardy Clause can seem confusing, but is ultimately designed to protect defendants from abuses of state power. Knowing your rights is essential to keeping your freedom. If you have any legal concerns, call the Khonsari Law Group today for your free initial consultation, and be sure to read about When to Practice Your Fifth Amendment Rights.