In the United States we have a right against double jeopardy in prosecution. The Constitution guarantees that a person will not be prosecuted twice for the same offense. In today’s episode Chuck explains what this covers and why it doesn’t prevent someone from receiving multiple charges from one crime.
Hi friends, I would like to explain the issue of double jeopardy to you. I’m sure you have all heard of it. Under the United States Constitution you can’t be tried for the same offense twice. That sort of goes to the extent of you’re tried for murder, you’re found not guilty and down the road the State comes up with more evidence they can’t charge you again and retry you.
A lot of people believe it means that you can’t be tried for the same things that happen under the same incident; and I will give you the perfect scenario. A DUI, a misdemeanor DUI case. You get charged with that and it is in the Tempe City Court by the Tempe City Prosecutor’s office. Then you get charged with aggravated assault because you happened to be in an accident and you hurt someone seriously. As a result of that you get charged with aggravated assault dangerous because the vehicle you were in was used as a dangerous instrument either negligently, recklessly, or intentionally. You can be charged in both of those courts and you might be thinking (because some of my clients have) “Gee, if I plea out on the DUI case and get rid of that it makes the aggravated assault case go away.” But no it doesn’t.
The elements of both of those crimes are completely different the only things that I can see in common is that you were driving a vehicle (which could be used as a dangerous instrument), and the fact that you were driving while impaired makes it either neglect or reckless. So that falls within the aggravated assault statute, but it is two seperate offenses even though they happened in the same set of circumstances; you were impaired and you were driving a vehicle. So it is not double jeopardy.
This issue actually comes up quite a bit. Just so you know, the aggravated assault case may come first and then when they get your blood alcohol reading back from the lab then the DUI gets charged down the road as well or vice versa. That does happen a lot, it has happened so many times in my career I can’t even tell you.
Just because you aren’t being charged at one point doesn’t mean you won’t be charged relative to something completely different down the road.
I hope that is understandable and if you have any questions just email me.