State Court Decisions on Double Jeopardy

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

The U.S. Constitution, and the Supreme Court cases interpreting it, establish the minimum amount of protection that a state court must provide. While the Bill of Rights originally applied only to the federal government, most of its provisions, including the Fifth Amendment's prohibition on double jeopardy, have been made applicable to the states via the doctrine of incorporation.

Because of this, many state courts have had the opportunity to interpret and apply the Double Jeopardy Clause, but in a way that doesn't conflict with Supreme Court precedent. State courts can also interpret any double jeopardy clauses in their own state constitutions which often provide more protection than that which is afforded by the federal constitution (since the minimum standards under the U.S. Constitution always apply).

State court decisions on double jeopardy differ quite a bit, as you'll read below.

Double Jeopardy: In Summary

The Fifth Amendment states that no one shall "be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." While this generally means no one may be tried more than once for the same crime, it's a bit more complicated than that. For example, trials ending in a hung jury (and thus an acquittal) may be retried in some states if the prosecution decides to give it another try.

The reason for double jeopardy laws is to protect civilians from the possibility of endless criminal proceedings for a single act and to generally limit the power of the prosecution.

Various State Court Decisions on Double Jeopardy

Below is a sampling of cases decided in part based on a state court's interpretation of its own state constitutional provision governing double jeopardy.

Alabama

Reintroduction of two prior convictions at re-sentencing of the defendant for the purpose of enhancement under the Habitual Felony Offender Act didn't violate the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the federal or state constitutions, even though the convictions weren't certified at original sentencing hearing, where the defendant was put on notice at the original sentencing hearing of the state's intention to offer evidence of his prior felony convictions.

Arkansas

Although both the United States and Arkansas constitutions provide that no person shall be subjected to two punishments based on same offense, remedial civil sanctions may be properly imposed without placing the person in jeopardy.

Arizona

If a mistrial is granted as result of conduct that the prosecutor knew or should have known would prejudice the defendant and that could not be cured short of a mistrial, the double jeopardy clause of the Arizona Constitution bars a retrial.

California

A court-ordered victim restitution imposed for the first time at re-sentencing following appeal and partial reversal of the defendant's murder convictions wasn't considered a "punishment" and was therefore not barred under California's constitutional double jeopardy provisions.

Florida

The state's constitutional double jeopardy provision doesn't prohibit a defendant's retrial when a prior trial has been concluded by mistrial because of a hung jury.

  • Lebron v. State, 2001 WL 987233, 26 Fla. L. Weekly S553 (Fla. 30, 2001);
  • F.S.A. Const. Art. 1, § 9.

Georgia

The double jeopardy clause of state constitution does not prohibit additional punishment for a separate offense that the legislature has deemed to warrant a separate sanction.

Illinois

The protection against double jeopardy afforded by the Illinois Constitution is no greater than that provided by the U. S. Constitution.

Massachusetts

The double jeopardy provision of the state constitution wasn't implicated by reuse of evidence of drunk driving at the defendant's trial on the charge of vehicular homicide by negligent operation, even though the defendant was acquitted in the first-tier trial on drunk driving charges, since in the state's two-tier trial system the defendant remained in continuing jeopardy with regard to other offenses for which he was originally convicted.

  • Commissioner v. Woods, 414 Mass. 343, 607 N.E.2d 1024 (Mass. 1993);
  • M.G.L.A. c. 218, § 26A.

Michigan

Convictions and punishments for involuntary manslaughter and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (OUIL) causing death don't violate the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the federal or state constitutions, since the offenses protect distinct societal norms, and the statute defining each offense requires proof of an element that the other does not.

  • People v. Kulpinski, 243 Mich.App. 8, 620 N.W.2d 537 (Mich.App. 2000);
  • U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 5;
  • M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 1, § 15.

Minnesota

Forfeiture of a motorist's vehicle after he'd been convicted and sentenced for misdemeanor driving while intoxicated (DWI) wasn't double punishment in violation of the state constitution's double jeopardy clause, since the motorist provided no basis for reading the state double jeopardy clause more broadly than its federal counterpart in the context of DWI-related vehicle forfeitures.

New York

Defendant's re-prosecution for first-degree criminal contempt after being found guilty on the lesser charge of second-degree criminal contempt violated the Double Jeopardy Clauses of both the federal and state constitutions, where the defendant's trial was originally on both charges and the defendant was convicted on the second-degree charge only after a partial mistrial was declared as to the first-degree charge.

Texas

A defendant's conviction for assault of a public servant didn't violate the double jeopardy provisions of either the federal or state constitutions, even though the defendant had already received prison discipline for the same incident, since prison sanctions aren't considered "punishment" for the purposes of double jeopardy analysis.

Do You Have Double Jeopardy Concerns? Get Legal Help

Double jeopardy provides strong protections for criminal defendants under federal and state law. If any of these protections apply to you, it could have a significant impact on your case. Speak with an expert criminal defense attorney today to find out more about double jeopardy protections and get personalized legal advice about your specific situation.

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