328 East 1st Street N.
Wichita, Kansas 67202

How Does Double Jeopardy Actually Work?

Posted: 3/6/2017



Any Wichita defense attorney can explain that the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy clause is meant to protect a person being tried in criminal court twice. The protection exists to prevent the government from prosecuting an individual twice for the same crime. Jonathan McConnell can assist you with understanding how the idea of double jeopardy applies to your case. The concept sounds simple, but is very complex.

How can you tell when one crime is too similar to another crime? What happens if the jury convicts you on one charge but is hung on the other charges? Can you claim the double jeopardy protection in the event of a mistrial? Jonathan McConnell can answer these questions. He can argue on your behalf to point out that a second prosecution may be biased and unnecessary.

What Is Double Jeopardy?

One of the most important concepts a Wichita lawyer can explain is when double jeopardy starts. This process is called attachment. In a jury trial, jeopardy attaches when a jury has been sworn in. In a trial without a jury, or bench trial, jeopardy attaches when the first witness is sworn. Jeopardy must completely attach to bar a re-prosecution. The trial must end in a guilty or not guilty verdict. If there is a hung jury or the defense agrees to a mistrial, the prosecution can re-try the case. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in November 2016 that double jeopardy does not bar retrial when a jury delivers inconsistent verdicts.

If you have faced the same charge before, talk to Jonathan McConnell. Focus on the circumstances of the trial and the result of the trial. Be aware that double jeopardy applies only to criminal cases, not a criminal case and a civil case. This means that the double jeopardy protection does not apply when a state agency suspends a driver’s license of an individual through administrative action and the individual faces charges for a DUI in criminal court. Double jeopardy also may apply when an individual has a criminal case and a related traffic court case.

State and Federal Offenses

Double jeopardy does not apply when a person commits a criminal offense that violates both state and federal law. Each government can bring criminal charges. They can try the case in different courts, according to different rules under the separate sovereigns doctrine.

If you are in such a situation, your criminal defense attorney should try to get one set of charges dismissed. This allows you to fight the case only once. Typically, only a state prosecutor will charge a defendant in a DUI, or driving under the influence, case. You may face state and federal charges in a white collar crime case.

Jonathan McConnell is an experienced Wichita, KS, lawyer with a background in traffic law, DUI defense and white collar crime defense. He can provide you with important information to help you determine whether you want to take a plea offer or take the case to trial. Consider talking to him before you make a significant decision.

Jonathan W. McConnell
328 East 1st Street N.
Wichita, Kansas 67202
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