A woman is convicted of murdering her husband. She spends six years in prison before getting out on parole. She believes her husband framed her, and is still alive. Full of revenge, she decides to hunt him down and kill him, knowing she'll get away with it. Why is she so sure? She knows she can't be re-prosecuted for his murder because of a rule in criminal law called ‘Double Jeopardy.'
This is a plot for a movie called “Double Jeopardy,” starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones. The story might seem unbelievable, but there really is a law that protects people from going to trial for the same thing twice in Adams, Denver, and Jefferson County, and across Colorado. It is called double jeopardy. Let's take a look at this Constitutional protection in order to understand just how it works.
What is Jeopardy in Criminal Cases in Colorado?
Jeopardy is a principle in sex crime cases in Arapahoe, El Paso, and Douglas County, and throughout Colorado, that goes into effect when the jury is sworn in, or when the first witness takes the stand. It is founded on the concept that people shouldn't be tried for the same crime twice (unless the defense is able to gather enough evidence for appeal). It doesn't matter how a case ended – whether a person was found ‘guilty' or ‘not guilty' at trial. This rule can be found in the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment. Our forefather's recorded a protection that prevents citizens from “twice being put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The government only has one shot at convicting at trial. If the District Attorney is unable to get a conviction, or they aren't able to procure a key witness and they lose, they don't get a second chance. Often, DAs dismiss cases if they don't think they have a good shot at winning, hoping to take it to trial later (of course, they must also consider the Statute of Limitations when waiting to go to trial), simply because they don't want to lose their chances at a conviction.[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”65%”]This law was instated to prevent people from ‘twice being put in jeopardy of life or limb.'[/pullquote]
Exceptions to the Jeopardy Rule
There are exceptions to the jeopardy rule, however. If you believe the jeopardy rule is key in your criminal case, be sure to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer who will determine whether this rule is applicable. Here are a few exceptions to the jeopardy rule:
- When an acquittal is procured through fraud, or other similar conduct (such as intimidating a witness), jeopardy doesn't come into play.
- The judge in your case declared a mistrial because there was a hung jury who couldn't reach a unanimous verdict, jeopardy has no bearing.
- Jeopardy will not help you if another court (jurisdiction) is examining your conduct under different laws. E.g., if you were acquitted of Sexual Assault in Gilpin County, but your case was retried in federal court.
Why You Need a Lawyer for your Sex Crime Case
If you believe jeopardy might come into play in your case, contact an experienced lawyer at our office for a free consultation to discuss your situation and protect your future.
If you have been charged with a sex offense, and you believe jeopardy might come into play in your case, contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer at our office for a free consultation. We have 40 years of experience in the courtroom, and we have a good grasp on how jeopardy comes into play. Don't try to fight this legal battle on your own. The lawyers at the O'Malley Law Office have a passion for defending people accused of crimes, and we fight to win.Request a Free Consultation