If the state charges an individual based on a suspicion that he or she has broken the law in some way, the burden is on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she actually committed the crime. If the individual admits guilt or a judge or jury finds the individual guilty of the crime, then the individual will receive some sort of sentence or punishment due to being convicted of the criminal act. However, once an individual is convicted of a crime, then the state cannot charge or try him or her a second time for the same offense. Convicting an individual twice for the same crime is referred to as double jeopardy.
What is Double Jeopardy and How Does It Work?
Similarly, if an individual is charged with a crime, the case goes to trial, and the jury acquits the individual, or finds him or her not guilty, then the state cannot bring charges against the individual a second time for the same crime. Once an individual has either been convicted or acquitted of a crime, there can be no further prosecution related to the same criminal offense.
The purpose of double jeopardy is to ensure due process by preventing individuals from being punished twice for the same criminal offense. Otherwise, prosecutors or judges might be able to force an individual to face additional penalties for a crime for which they already have been punished.
Double jeopardy does not apply until a case goes to trial, or when the jury is sworn in and begins to hear the case. Therefore, if you are arrested or even charged with a crime, but the state later drops the charges against you, double jeopardy does not come into play. This means that you could be arrested and charged with the same crime all over again, if the state chooses to do so.
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