Common Myths and Misconceptions About the Criminal Justice System: Double Jeopardy

Common Myths and Misconceptions About the Criminal Justice System: Double Jeopardy

Understanding the myths and misconceptions that surround the criminal justice system can make it seem less scary if you are charged with a criminal offense that requires a criminal lawyer to work through. That way, you’re aware of what is truth and what is not truth, and this can put your mind at ease.

Reach out to a good criminal lawyer for your defense, such as the ones at The Morales Law Firm! They know what they’re doing, and you’ll want someone on your side with an inkling of how the law actually works.

Double Jeopardy

If you’ve ever watched television, you’ve heard of double jeopardy. This is a law defense that plays into the 5th amendment, where if you are acquitted of a crime once, the amendment says you cannot be trialed for the same crime twice—or retried and retried until it’s successful in putting you away.

But this is not a straightforward defense—have we ever shared a defense that’s straightforward with you before? Double jeopardy applies if the jury has convicted or acquitted somebody of a particular crime, secondly, the defendant can be tried, convicted and sentenced for the same underlying offense in both state and federal courts. Third, the state can charge a defendant with both the crime and the conspiracy to commit the crime, meaning there are two opportunities to convict.

Double jeopardy was first seen in a movie of the same name in 1999. This film starred Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones, and illustrated another exception to the rule. The main character is convicted for the death of her husband, who is later found out to be alive and well. The script interpreted double jeopardy one way, and the main character believed that she could now go and murder her husband is broad daylight and not be tried or convicted for his murder because she had been previously convicted and his murder didn’t happen then.

In this case, the first murder that she was convicted for never actually happened, therefore her sentence was not a true conviction—and not only that but the second murder (the real one) would take place at a different time and place than the first one.

Double jeopardy does not apply in civil lawsuits, lesser charges of the same offense, and the defendant must actually be placed in “jeopardy” by the government. This means they must go to trial first, before being able to claim jeopardy. Furthermore, jeopardy must end—the case has to reach a conclusion before jeopardy can be claimed. And you can be punished multiple times and double jeopardy won’t apply, you can also be charged with the same offense in different sovereigns.