What Is Double Jeopardy?
Double jeopardy is something that gained a fair bit of fame through the movie of the same name, but many people are not sure what it actually is or what it means in a legal setting. The basic idea is that a person is protected by the Constitution of the United States of America from being tried twice for the same crime. If they have gone on trial and been acquitted of a crime, and if there has been a final judgment stating that they are not guilty of any wrongdoing, they cannot then be taken to court again to get a new trial. They are free to go.
Why Is This Done? There are a few reasons that this is done. First, it is to prevent a person from being punished for a crime twice. If they were sentenced to two years in prison and served their time, it would not be fair for a jury to decide that they deserved more time and sentence them again. Second, it is to protect people from being taken to trial repeatedly by someone who is convinced of their guilt when they are really innocent. Once the trial is over, they deserve to be allowed to put the incident behind them.
Is This A Loophole? There are some situations in which this is viewed as a loophole in the justice system. If a man was said to be not guilty of a murder, for example, he could not be taken back to court later even if some bit of new evidence turned up — such as the murder weapon with his fingerprints on it. This is why the police are so careful to have all of their evidence before the trial starts. While this does mean that a guilty person could go free, this is generally considered to be a better option than the alternative, especially since this happens so infrequently.
Are There Exceptions? There are exceptions to this rule. There has to be a final judgment for it to go into effect. If there is a dismissed case because of lack of evidence, they can still be charged when evidence surfaces. If there is a mistrial or a trial that is deemed to be fraudulent, they can be tried again. This is to keep guilty people from bribing judges to get a ruling that will then protect them forever despite the evidence.…