The Double Jeopardy Law: A Serious Risk When Tried for a Federal Crime

For those facing criminal charges, they want to leave the whole ordeal behind once the trial is over.

According to the Constitution, the Fifth Amendment protects a person from being tried for the same crime twice. But is a person safe from being tried again?

Surprisingly, for anyone charged with a federal crime, they can be tried twice.

Because of this, it’s best to find a reliable defense attorney the first time around, for it is brought back to court, they’re going to have to fight to save your case again, but this time the prosecutors will know your defense strategy, which can complicate things.

In this article, criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaram, of Balaram Law Office, answers this question.

What Is Federal Double Jeopardy?


Double jeopardy occurs when a person is tried for the same crime, part of that same crime, or overlapping crimes more than once.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment ensures that no person will ever be tried for a crime they’ve committed once they’ve been acquitted, convicted, served their punishment, or gone through a mistrial.

Federal double jeopardy is, in a way, prohibited by the Constitution. However, that doesn’t mean a person can’t be tried for the same crime twice.

Because federal and state courts are two different sovereignties, a case can be passed from one to another, which essentially creates a loophole that allows suits to be tried one level and then moved to the next to be tried again.

Is There a Difference Between State and Federal Double Jeopardy?


Just like on the federal level, the Double Jeopardy Clause applies to the state courts, as well. In other words, there’s not much difference between the two; if a person is convicted of a crime in the state courts, they cannot be sentenced again by the state courts.

So, a Person Can Have Two Convictions?


Because of the loophole that allows crimes to be tried again, a person technically can have two convictions for the same crime. It’s just that one would be through the state courts, and the other is through the federal courts.

In June of 2019, the Supreme Court reasserted the validity of this exception by declaring that both sovereignties can try a person for violations of federal and state laws, even if some aspects overlap.

Why the Right Defense is Crucial


Given how complicated court systems can be if you’re facing a hefty sentence—or possibly more than one—you must have the right defense by your side.

The right attorney can help guide you through the processes, knows the ins and outs of the courts, and stays on the balls of their feet to ensure nothing slips by. They can adjust their defense strategy, as necessary, and have a few loopholes up their sleeves to help you avoid a conviction—or two.

The origin of Double Jeopardy


The idea behind res judicata is old, dating back to 355 BC Athens, Greece. The first legal courts in the western world affirmed that “the law prohibits the same man from being sentenced twice for the same crime.” This clause has survived through the centuries, having stood the test of time through various judicial systems dating from Athens and the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages, the English courts, and the rise of the West.

The concept was not without limitations and abuses, especially in England before the colonization of America. The colonists of America expanded on the definition and made sure that the concept applies to more than just capital crimes. The text was eventually modified to clarify its meaning and is used today by a defense attorney as a means of avoiding undue punishment for the same crime.

The Penal Reform


It is the most profound transformation that has been made in the area of ​​justice. The following are its advantages:

1. Expands the rights of the victim or offended

When there is a crime, the victim or offended person is the main affected; For this reason, the new Criminal Justice System strengthens your rights. From now on, the victim has a legal advisor throughout the process to be correctly oriented. Similarly, it becomes an essential and active part, which can provide evidence and participate directly in the case.

2.Implements oral trials

Previously, criminal proceedings were carried out in writing. One of the most significant advantages is that today, all the information is presented in oral and public hearings, in which both parties submit their statements.

3. Control Judge

Also, there is a Control Judge. He is in charge of supervising that the entire investigation process is under the law. He is a participant who acts neutrally; On the one hand, it rectifies that the arrest of the accused is legal and fair, and also, ensures that the victims are heard and taken into account.

4. Depressurizes the judicial system

The processes are now shorter since there are effective ways to streamline the criminal process; therefore, reparation of the harm to the victim is also accomplished in less time.

5. Protects the human rights of victims and accused persons

The authorities involved must guarantee that the rights of both the victim and the accused are respected. That is called “due process,” and the penal system needs to function effectively.

How Double Jeopardy Protects Defendants


A person who commits a crime must be prosecuted and punished for that crime; However, the judicial system must not punish that person unfairly or in a way that is greater than what the crime mandates. It comes into play if a crime is committed, and a defendant is charged with the same complaint by more than one person or group. All claims can be heard, but only one punishment is represented as a single crime was committed. A defense attorney uses this clause to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial and punishment.

So, to highlight it once again, anyone facing more serious criminal charges should seek the advice of excellent criminal defense attorneys. If a case results in multiple charges or if a complaint is filed after an acquittal, the defendant may be able to use the double-risk defense. Dedicated defense attorneys understand the importance of Fifth Amendment protection and will use it within the framework of a fair legal, criminal defense, and appropriate sentencing.