Robert W. Davis, Jr.,
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Can two different courts charge me for the same crime?

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2019 | Federal Criminal Defense |

You and every other person in Mississippi have a constitutional right to avoid double jeopardy, which is when the state charges you with the same crime more than one time. What this essentially means is that if you face a criminal charge, go to court and are found not guilty, the prosecutor cannot charge you again to try to get a guilty verdict. This is a right at the state and federal level. However, it does not mean that in every situation you cannot face charges for the same crime more than once.

The New York Times explains that you certainly can face charges twice if the first charge is either at the state or federal level and the second time is at the opposite. So, you could face a criminal charge in a state court, and then, you could face the charge in a federal court. This is the exemption to the double jeopardy rule.

You may think this seems unfair, and you would not be alone in that. Many people feel the same way. However, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this exception. The rationale is that state and federal courts are independent of each other, so it does not violate the Constitution. The Court has upheld this ruling for 170 years.

The concern of the Court is that by ending this practice, it would severely limit the United States ability to prosecute for crimes committed in other countries where a person has already gone to court in that country. This would come into play in serious cases, such as murder of a U.S. citizen in a foreign country. This information is for education and is not legal advice.


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