The concept of double jeopardy as it applies to the law is one of those things that many people know about but few people understand. Here’s what double jeopardy actually means to someone already charged with a crime, courtesy of San Marcos criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Most people grasp the basic idea of double jeopardy -that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime, but like most constitutional amendments, any Escondido defense attorney will warn you it is rarely as simple as it sounds. For example, the move Double Jeopardy presented the idea that if a woman was tried for killing her husband, but he was still alive, she could get away with killing him because she was already convicted of the crime. In reality though, breaking the law in the same way on a different occasion is not protected under double jeopardy. Otherwise someone could steal an XBox One from Walmart and continue to do so again and again after his or her first completed trial on the grounds that he or she was already prosecuted for the crime.
Another common misconception is that double jeopardy means you can confess to committing a crime once you have been acquitted because you can no longer be tried with the crime. While this is technically true, defense lawyers in Oceanside will warn against confessing after successfully pleading not guilty because you will be opening yourself up to both perjury charges and lawsuits as civil courts are not held to a double jeopardy standard. It’s worth noting that administrative proceedings, such as DMV hearings, are also not covered by the double jeopardy standard, which is why you can face a hearing for your driver’s license in addition to being tried for drunk driving.
In some cases, confessing to a crime after an acquittal could also open you up to additional criminal charges related to how the crime was committed. For example, if, immediately after his acquittal, OJ Simpson had confessed to attempting to hire a hitman to kill Nicole Simpson before killing her himself, he may have not be tried with the murder itself, but he could be charged with soliciting murder, attempted murder and perjury. Of course, these additional charges would be subject to the statute of limitations for the individual charges, so OJ Simpson, for example, could no longer be charged with perjury although he could still be charged with soliciting murder and attempted murder as there are no statute of limitations on these charges.
If you have any questions about double jeopardy and how it could affect your case, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Encinitas defense attorney Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Joseph Hunkins