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Double Jeopardy Limitations

Posted By Criminal Law Journal || 26-Aug-2010


    The Fifth Amendment To The U.S. Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, provides that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offense once acquitted ("Double Jeopardy"). Double Jeopardy, however, does NOT prevent multiple trials for the same offense in different states and/or sovereigns.  Each state and the federal government are separate sovereigns for Double Jeopardy purposes.

    Consider the following example.  A person has illegal drugs in his car and is on the Texas side of the Texas-Oklahoma border.  He then drives across the border into Oklahoma where he is apprehended and charged with drug possession.   At trial, an Oklahoma jury acquits the person of drug possession.  Although Double Jeopardy would prevent Oklahoma from re-trying the person for drug possession related to the incident, Double Jeopardy would not preclude Texas from charging the person with drug possession (assuming the Texas prosecutors had sufficient evidence that the person possessed the drugs while in Texas).  Moreover, in transporting illegal drugs across state lines, the person may have violated a federal criminal law.  If so, the jury acquittal in the Oklahoma trail would not preclude federal prosecutors from charging the person with a crime related to the same incident.  In this instance, Oklahoma, Texas, and the federal government constitute separate sovereigns, and an acquittal at trial in one sovereign would not preclude prosecution in either of the other two sovereigns. 

    Dallas criminal attorney Tom D'Amore has limited his practice to criminal law for over 23 years, and represents clients in state and federal courts.  If you have been charged with a crime, contact the D'Amore Law Firm and schedule a free case evaluation with Dallas criminal attorney Tom D'Amore

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