Can I Be Tried for the Same Crime in Both Federal and State Courts?

shutterstock_557897101Most people are familiar with the term “double jeopardy,” or they have probably at least heard of the concept. Protection against double jeopardy is written into the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “no person shall…be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” Basically, this provides U.S. citizens with protection against being tried more than once for the same crime. This issue typically arises when a person allegedly commits a criminal offense in more than one state or jurisdiction. Recently, the Supreme Court dealt with this issue by looking at whether or not those facing criminal charges could be tried for the same crime in both state and federal courts.

Recent Supreme Court Case Upholds Precedent

The case that made it to the Supreme Court dealt with a man who is currently a federal prison inmate. The Alabama man appealed to the Supreme Court after he was charged on both the state and federal level for possessing a gun after a previous felony robbery conviction. On the state level, he was sentenced to one year in prison. When tried for the same crime on the federal level, he was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, a sentence that was to run concurrently with the other sentence.

The man appealed to courts until the case found its way to the Supreme Court. In a vote of 7 to 2, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the exception to the double jeopardy rule, citing the dual sovereignty doctrine. Only two justices opposed the ruling, stating that the exception should be reconsidered.

Dual Sovereignty and Double Jeopardy

The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government was not in violation of the Constitution when it charged the Alabama man for the same crime that he had already faced state charges for. The idea of dual sovereignty is a different concept than double jeopardy; under the dual sovereignty doctrine, both the state and the federal government are permitted to charge a person for the same crime, as long as the crime violated both state and federal laws.

Contact a Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyer

In many situations, the double jeopardy rule does apply, but in some cases, the dual sovereignty doctrine provides an exception to that rule. If you believe you may have been subject to double jeopardy, or if you need help from a skilled Hartford, CT state and federal charges defense attorney, you should contact the Woolf Law Firm, LLC. We will help you determine your best defense strategies and work to avoid a conviction whenever possible. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/double_jeopardy

https://thecrimereport.org/2019/06/17/justices-uphold-federal-state-charges-for-same-crimes/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/17/politics/supreme-court-double-jeopardy-clause-case/index.html

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