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Double Jeopardy and Texas Law

Double Jeopardy

If you have learned enough about civics to have graduated from a Texas high school or if you have become a naturalized U.S. citizen after passing the civics exam portion of the naturalization process, then you know that the law protects you against double jeopardy. While most people have a basic understanding that double jeopardy means being tried twice for the same crime, they might not know all the details about what “no double jeopardy” does and does not protect you from. In this context, “jeopardy” means being at immediate risk of suffering criminal penalties. Therefore, jeopardy begins when your trial begins, once the jurors are in their seats. It is possible that you can be arrested during a criminal investigation, but the state will not charge you because there is not enough evidence. If the investigation continues and the court finds more evidence against you, though, you can be arrested again, and your case can proceed to trial if you plead not guilty; this still counts as only one jeopardy. A Texas criminal defense lawyer can help you exercise your rights in a criminal case, including the protection against double jeopardy.

You Can Appeal Almost Anything Except a Not Guilty Verdict

The no double jeopardy rule holds that once a jury returns a not guilty verdict, that verdict is final. If the state later finds more evidence against the defendant, the state cannot try the defendant again; the jury has already spoken, and the case is closed. If the jury convicts the defendant, though, the defendant has the right to appeal his or her conviction; this can result in a second trial for the same charges, but it does not count as double jeopardy. Likewise, defendants who plead guilty or who are convicted at trial have the right to appeal their sentence if the court imposes an unfairly harsh one.

Same Incident, Different Offense

If you are acquitted of one crime, the state can later charge you with a different offense in connection to the same incident. For example, you might be charged with money laundering after a bank notified authorities about a suspicious transaction of yours. If you get acquitted of the money laundering charge, the “no double jeopardy” rule leaves open the possibility that the state might charge you with fraud or forgery in relation to the same transaction.

Same Incident, Different Jurisdiction

If you got charged with money laundering in Texas after you moved money from Oklahoma to Texas, but you were acquitted, the Texas courts cannot reopen the case. Another jurisdiction can try you on the same charge, though. This means that you could face trial for the same money laundering charge in an Oklahoma court or in a federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC About Criminal Defense Cases

A criminal defense lawyer can help you exercise your right to protection against double jeopardy. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, in Dallas, Texas, to discuss your case.