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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:12 pm
Leveraging Double Jeopardy Protections in St. Petersburg Criminal Cases
Being charged with a crime is scary. It can feel like your whole world is crashing down around you. But if this is your situation, try to stay calm. You have rights under the law, including double jeopardy protections. This article will explain what double jeopardy is, how it applies in St. Petersburg criminal cases, and how a knowledgeable defense attorney can help you leverage these protections to avoid unfair prosecution.
What is Double Jeopardy?
The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution states that no person shall “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” This is known as the Double Jeopardy Clause. It prevents someone from being prosecuted twice for the same crime.
There are three basic protections under double jeopardy:
- Protection against prosecution for an offense after an acquittal
- Protection against prosecution for an offense after a conviction
- Protection against multiple punishments for the same offense
So if you’ve already been tried and acquitted of a crime, the government can’t charge you with that crime again. And if you were convicted, they can’t try you again for the same offense. Double jeopardy also prevents multiple punishments for the same crime.
How Double Jeopardy Applies in Florida
Florida’s Constitution contains similar double jeopardy protections as the US Constitution. Florida statutes also have provisions against double jeopardy. Section 775.021(4) of the Florida Statutes states that punishment cannot be imposed for a single offense greater than what is specifically authorized by statute, and punishment cannot be duplicated for separate offenses.
Florida courts use the “Blockburger test” to evaluate double jeopardy claims. This test looks at whether each offense contains a unique element that the other offenses do not. If the offenses have the same elements, it violates double jeopardy to convict on multiple charges.
Double Jeopardy Issues in DUI and Traffic Cases
Double jeopardy claims often come up in DUI and traffic cases in Florida. For example, a defendant cannot be convicted of both DUI and reckless driving causing serious bodily injury to the same victim in the same incident, as this constitutes double jeopardy.
Additionally, a defendant cannot be convicted of both DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide for one victim’s death, as these are considered degrees of the same core manslaughter offense.
Leveraging Double Jeopardy in St. Petersburg Courts
The St. Petersburg criminal court system sees many DUI and traffic cases where double jeopardy is a potential issue. As a defendant, having an experienced local defense attorney can help you identify possible double jeopardy violations and leverage these to get certain charges dropped or convictions overturned on appeal.
Here are some examples of how an attorney might leverage double jeopardy protections in St. Petersburg criminal cases:
- File a pretrial motion to dismiss one of multiple charges as violating double jeopardy. If the motion is successful, it can get certain charges thrown out before trial.
- Raise a double jeopardy objection at trial if the defendant is facing conviction on overlapping charges.
- File a post-conviction appeal arguing that dual convictions constituted double jeopardy. If the appeal succeeds, one or more convictions could potentially be vacated.
- In a federal case, argue that a state court conviction bars federal prosecution on similar charges under the dual sovereignty doctrine exception to double jeopardy.
Finding the Right St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney
As you can see, double jeopardy rules can be complex, but the right attorney can use them to your advantage. When choosing a defense lawyer, look for these important qualifications:
- Extensive experience in local courts handling cases like yours
- Successful track record getting charges dismissed pretrial or overturned on appeal
- Deep knowledge of state and federal double jeopardy laws
- Resources to thoroughly evaluate your case for double jeopardy issues
- Ability to craft persuasive, legally sound double jeopardy arguments
- Skill at negotiating with prosecutors to drop overlapping charges