Two Times You May Still Be Prosecuted For The Same Crime After Receiving An Acquittal

Posted on: 8 December 2017

The Fifth Amendment protects defendants from double jeopardy, i.e., being prosecuted for the same crime twice. Thus, if you receive an acquittal in your case, the prosecution will generally be barred from bringing the same charges against you a second time. However, like most things in life, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. Here are two times when you may find yourself back in the courtroom after an acquittal:

The Prosecution Successfully Appeals the Verdict

Prosecutors cannot usually appeal acquittals, even if there is indisputable evidence the defendants committed the crimes. Once a defendant receives the acquittal, he or she is free from further prosecution. However, there is one exception to this rule. If the jury renders a guilty verdict but the judge in the case acquits the defendant, the prosecutor can appeal the decision.

Acquittals after a jury verdict rarely happen but can occur if the judge felt there was insufficient evidence of the defendant's guilt. Usually, the defendant's attorney will file a motion for acquittal, and the judge will consider the relevant aspects of the case before rendering a decision. If the judge grants the defendant's motion, the prosecutor can take the case to a higher court for further consideration.

It's important to note, though, that you won't actually be subject to another criminal trial. Instead, the prosecutor will work to prove why the jury's verdict was the right one. If the appeals court agrees with the prosecutor, the acquittal will be revoked, and the jury's decision will stand. You'll then move on to sentencing.

You're Tried in Another Jurisdiction

An acquittal in one jurisdiction doesn't protect you from prosecution in a different jurisdiction. It just means the prosecutors in the original case cannot come after again for the same crime. If there is enough evidence to support a case in another jurisdiction, you may be forced to undergo a second trial.

A common example of this is when a person is acquitted in state court but has charges filed against them by the federal government (typically for civil rights violations). This situation doesn't count as double jeopardy because state and federal courts are considered two different and distinct jurisdictions.

There are other ways you may end up facing prosecution for the same crime even though you have been acquitted by a judge or jury. It's essential that you discuss the issue with your attorney and develop a strategy to minimize the risk of this happening. For more information about this issue, contact a criminal defense law office like The Fitzpatrick Law Firm.