What is Double Jeopardy and Does It Affect My Case?

Both the federal and Texas state constitutions contain a prohibition on double jeopardy. On the federal level, the double jeopardy provision appears in the 5th Amendment, as part of the Bill of Rights. In its simplest terms, double jeopardy guarantees that you will not have to stand trial a second time for the same crime if you already have been found not guilty, or acquitted, of that crime in a previous trial. In a criminal trial, jeopardy attaches when a judge swears in a jury. After that point, if the judge dismisses the trial for any reason, double jeopardy applies and the individual cannot face another trial for that same crime.

Depending on the circumstances, double jeopardy also may prevent you from receiving a second punishment for an offense for which you already have been punished. In other words, once you have been acquitted or found guilty and punished for a crime, the state or federal government doesn’t get a second “bite at the apple” to prosecute or punish you again for the same criminal offense. Double jeopardy is often raised as a defense in civil forfeiture actions. Since the individual is already receiving punishment for having committed a certain crime, is it double jeopardy for the state to also seize his assets through a civil forfeiture action? To date, the answer seems to be “it depends.” Courts at all levels have extensively analyzed this issue, and come up with some different tests and guidance to help judges in other cases determine whether a particular civil forfeiture action constitutes double jeopardy or not.

The Cogdell Law Firm has the experience, knowledge and reputation that you want and need for your Houston criminal charges. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or dan@cogdell-law.com. Call our office today and schedule a consultation with an effective Houston criminal defense lawyer.