Burns Chronicles No 58
“Twice Put in Jeopardy”
Of course, we must start with the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, as it is the “supreme Law of the Land. The pertinent part reads:
“No person… shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”
Now, that phrase, “twice put in jeopardy” is also referred to as “Double Jeopardy”, though whichever way we choose to phrase it, the meaning is quite simple. If you are charged with a crime, absent a mistrial or some other legitimate cause, you can only stand trial one time.
It used to be that a crime was simply stated. If you murdered someone, then you were charged with murder. If you murdered more than one person, then additional counts of murder were added to the charge. You would not be charged with, say, unlawful discharge of a firearm within the limits of the city, destruction of private property if the bullet damaged something, assault, illegal possession of a weapon, or any other crimes that you may have committed while also committing murder. You simply stood trial for murder.
If you were acquitted, that was it. If they found additional evidence that proved that you had really committed the murder, that was too bad. They had their chance, and they blew it.
This protection, afforded by the Bill of Rights was a prohibition against the government trying and then retrying, you until they could get a conviction. It also precluded your being tried by one court, found not guilty, and then tried by another court in different jurisdiction, for the same crime.