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Criminal Defense Double Jeopardy

In Criminal Defense work, Double Jeopardy stands for the idea that a criminal defendant can not be charged for the same crime twice. Specifically, the Fifth amendment to the United States Constitution states that nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb. assault crimes In criminal defense, people frequently believe that their double jeopardy rights have been violated even when they have not. For instance, a Defendant's double jeopardy rights do not attach at a Preliminary Hearing. If a District Justice dismisses the charges against a defendant at a Preliminary Hearing because the government's witnesses did not appear to testify, the government, if they wish, may re-arrest the defendant on the same crimes that were just dismissed. The reason for this is that jeopardy (as used in the 5th amendment) does not attach until either a jury is sworn in in the case of a jury trial), or the first witness is sworn in during a bench trial (which is a trial before a judge and not a jury).

A more in depth explanation of Double Jeopardy as it relates to Criminal Defense was provided by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs Martin. In that case, which took place in Philadelphia, the defendant decided to have a trial on his DUI charge before a judge. Sentencing Guidelines The government's witnesses did not appear to testify at court even though the trial had been listed for that day. The government tried to withdrawal the charges, but the Judge refused this request and made a finding that the defendant was not guilty. The Superior Court found that the Judge was not permitted to make that finding of not guilty since the government did not present any evidence and did not call any witnesses. Therefore Jeopardy had not attached and the government could recharge the defendant for the DUI.

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