When most people think of the term double jeopardy, they think it means that the court can never charge you with the same crime twice. While that is partially true, there are certain instances where you can be charged twice for the same offense. My goal is to give you the full meaning of double jeopardy and how it can apply to you or a loved one if you were arrested anywhere in Okaloosa County.

What Is the Reason Behind Having a Rule Against Double Jeopardy?

Broadly speaking, the double jeopardy clause in Okaloosa County and throughout Florida accomplishes three major purposes:

  1. It prohibits prosecution and punishment for the same offense after an acquittal.
  2. It prohibits prosecution and punishment for the same offense after conviction.
  3. It prohibits multiple prosecutions and punishments for the same offense.

In short, it was created to protect defendants from any potential abuse of state power and to ensure the finality of a judgment or sentence.

Double Jeopardy in Florida

There are two major references that Florida Courts base all their decisions on when deciding issues pertaining to double jeopardy.

Article 1, Section 9 of the Florida Constitution states:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, or be compelled in any criminal matter to be a witness against oneself.”

The 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

These two references give us the general premise behind double jeopardy; however, each Florida court has a different opinion on how to interpret them. The law on double jeopardy is not 100 % clear so it is imperative that you consult with a criminal defense attorney who has the first-hand knowledge and experience to ensure that you are not being wrongfully charged.

When Does the Double Jeopardy Clause Not Protect Me From Prosecution?

As I previously mentioned, unfortunately, there are times when the double jeopardy clause does not apply. For instance, an individual can be tried twice based on the same facts as long as the elements of each crime are different. In addition, different jurisdictions can charge the same individual with the same crime based on the same facts without violating double jeopardy. For example, federal and state governments can charge the same defendant for the same conduct as long as some element or aspect of the defendant’s conduct violated both a federal law and a state law.

Examples: If a defendant is tried for a burglary that allegedly occurred at the Chevron gas station on March 1, 2005, and is acquitted, the defendant cannot be tried a second time for the burglary of that same gas station on the same date.

If the defendant is tried and acquitted for allegedly selling illegal narcotics at the Chevron gas station on March 1, 2005, to one person, that same defendant can still be tried for allegedly selling narcotics at the same gas station on March 1, 2005, to another person. Each time the narcotics are sold, it is a separate act and a separate offense, and they can both be tried without violating the double jeopardy clause.

Call Us If You Think Double Jeopardy Applies in Your Case

The double jeopardy clause can be applied to any proceeding in the state of Florida. This means that any misdemeanor or felony can be protected under the double jeopardy clause and no matter what type of charge you are facing, it is important to contact an aggressive Okaloosa County defense attorney.

The double jeopardy clause can seem confusing, but it is designed to protect you. Knowing your rights is crucial to keeping your freedom. If you or a loved one has been arrested in Okaloosa County and have any concerns regarding double jeopardy, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for your free consultation.

Contact an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney