What is the Double Jeopardy exception?
Under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution and under the Minnesota Constitution, the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits a person from being prosecuted twice for the same crime by stating, “No person shall…be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…”
This constitutional provision prevents the government from having multiple chances to re-charge or conflict a person of a crime they committed which has already been decided within the judicial system. Typically, only criminal sanctions that are considered as “punishments” are qualified under the double jeopardy exception.
This can give comfort to any person charged and punished for a crime in knowing that the outcome of their original criminal proceeding will have finality. In order to have that finality, there needs to be “first jeopardy.” First jeopardy can attach at different times, but typically occurs when a plea is accepted or when a trial begins.
The Double Jeopardy Clause specifically forbids the following actions that would challenge the constitutional rights of citizens charged with crimes:
- Subsequent prosecution after an acquittal
- Subsequent prosecution after a conviction
- Subsequent prosecution after certain mistrials
- Multiple punishments in the same indictment
Like many legal topics, double jeopardy can be a complex, but highly important issue. If you become concerned you are facing prosecution for a charge that has already been put to rest, contact us.