What Is Dual Sovereignty, and How Does it Pertain to My Criminal Case?

East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for state and federal chargesThe United States Constitution gives citizens dozens of rights that are indicative of the spirit and history of the country, such as the right to free speech, the right to peacefully protest, and the right to bear arms. These rights are contained in the first ten Amendments, called the Bill of Rights, and they are constantly being analyzed in different contexts by scholars, lawmakers, and the members of the U.S. Supreme Court. One of these rights is the protection against double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime more than once. This has been an issue that has wedged its way into the Supreme Court more than once and that has held precedent for many years.

Understanding Dual Sovereignty and Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains a variety of protections and rights given to citizens concerning criminal trials. One of these protections is from what is known as “double jeopardy” or being tried for the same crime twice. Originally, the Fifth Amendment was only meant to apply to the federal government, but over the years, the Supreme Court has ruled that it also applies to state governments.

The issue that the Supreme Court has faced again and again is whether or not a person can be tried for the same instance of a crime in both state and federal courts. For many years, the Supreme Court has upheld that a person can, in fact, be tried in both state and federal courts for the same instance of a crime because the state government and federal government are technically two different jurisdictions or “sovereigns.” This is known as the dual sovereignty doctrine.

This doctrine has also been referenced in crimes that take place across several states, where more than one state has jurisdiction to prosecute. For example, a person who kidnaps a child and transports that child across state lines can be prosecuted in multiple states, because he or she was in more than one state while they committed the crime. In theory, a person could face multiple state and federal charges for a single crime that took place across more than one state and that violated the laws of multiple states, as well as federal laws.

Get in Touch With a Skilled Hartford, CT State and Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you were accused of committing an action that is illegal in both state and federal statutes, it is possible that you can be tried and receive a sentence for your crime in both the state and federal court systems. If you are facing charges in more than one jurisdiction, you need help from a Connecticut criminal defense attorney who has experience handling both state and federal charges. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can help you fight for your rights and develop a solid defense against any and all criminal charges. Call our office today at 860-290-8690 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-646_d18e.pdf

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/17-646

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

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