The court doesn’t like having it’s time wasted. More importantly, it doesn’t want individuals subjected to the emotional stress of a trial more than they need to. Double jeopardy was created to protect both of these instances from happening without proper cause.
Double jeopardy is a right which gives an individual the ability to not be tried for the same or similar crime which they were previously acquitted or charged of. It spares them a trial for a crime they have already been cleared of and keeps convicted individuals from additional punishment without just cause.
This is not an instantaneous procedure, and settled cases are never automatically flagged with a hands-off for prosecutors. Double jeopardy is decided on a case by case basis with a number of factors.
Criminal Cases Only
Civil and administrative proceedings aren’t included in double jeopardy offenses. An individual may not be prosecuted for the same fraud case, however a plaintiff may still be able to sue for damages.
Jeopardy isn’t applied the moment charges are filed. An individual may still be detained for a brief period of time. Once a jury has been selected and the case is entering court it has advanced far enough to necessitate double jeopardy.
Jeopardy Must End
The case must have some sense of total conclusion. This means a guilty, not guilty or dismissal due to insufficient evidence. If a case has ended due to mistrial, the plaintiff still has the ability to seek a retrial which can’t have double jeopardy applied to it.
Is it the Same Offense?
Defendants are only same from the exact same charge. If one crime has multiple charges associated with it they will be tried for each one without eligibility for jeopardy. Additionally, if evidence is insufficient to convict for large offenses, the defense may pursue a conviction with the same evidence for a smaller offense.
If a different level of the court systems seeks to bring a defendant to trial, they are ineligible for double jeopardy. For example, a federal court can legally bring the same offense back to trial should a state court fail.
It’s natural for prosecutors to seek the most extreme punishment available depending on the case. However, double jeopardy laws require judges to only use the punishment for the greatest crime a defendant is found guilty of. If an individual is found guilty of assault and assault with a deadly weapon, they’ll only face the penalties from assault with a deadly weapon.