You’ve probably heard of double jeopardy, an important legal concept which means that a criminal defendant cannot face prosecution twice for the same offense. Although double jeopardy is a vital component of the U.S. Constitution, there are scenarios in which it does not apply. If you commit a crime in different states, counties or your offense violates both state and federal law, you may face prosecution for the same crime in multiple courts.
Facing Criminal Charges in Multiple Courts
Regardless of whether you have been convicted or acquitted in a particular jurisdiction, you typically cannot not be tried again for the same crime in the same court. However, you can still be tried in another state or the federal court system if charges have been brought against you in those jurisdictions. This falls under the legal concept of “dual sovereigns,” which means that if your crime violated both state and federal laws, the United States and state governments may both prosecute you without violating the constitutional protection against double jeopardy. These types of cases are very complex, so it is vital to seek the counsel of knowledgeable criminal lawyers who are familiar with all aspects of criminal law and have experience representing defendants in multiple jurisdictions.
Prosecution after a Mistrial
A judge may declare a mistrial for several reasons. One of the most common scenarios that lead to a mistrial is a “hung jury,” which occurs when all jurors cannot come to a consensus on the defendant’s guilt or innocence. The concept of double jeopardy only applies in cases where the defendant was definitively and unanimously found not guilty by a jury. In a mistrial, because the original jury was unable to reach a verdict, the prosecutor could potentially try the defendant again in a new trial with a new jury. Again, if you’ve been federally charged or charged with the same crime in another state, you may face another trial in that jurisdiction, even after an acquittal.
The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Regardless of whether you’re facing charges in one or more jurisdictions, it is critical to have skilled criminal attorneys in your corner who will fight to protect your rights and help you understand the complexities of criminal defense law. The distinctions among local, state and federal law are complicated, and a lawyer whose focus is not in the area of criminal law may not know precisely what happens after a felony conviction or the ins and outs of representing a criminal defendant in multiple jurisdictions.
At Carosella & Associates, we use our combined skills and experience to develop effective defense strategies and work to achieve the best possible outcomes for all of our clients. If you are facing criminal charges, our experienced and compassionate legal team provides personalized, top-quality legal representation and will relentlessly fight to protect your rights and interests.