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Double jeopardy for the same crime is forbidden in the Minnesota Constitution and the United States Constitution.

The Minnesota Constitution and the United States Constitution each have a Double Jeopardy Clause that prohibits a criminal defendant from being twice tried for the same crime.

This important constitutional provision gives comfort to anyone charged with a crime, knowing that the outcome of the current criminal proceeding will have finality, without the worry that the government will get multiple chances to confict them.

The fact that the Double Jeopardy Clause is fundamental to our legal system, and is ingrained in our constitutions, provides a valuable defense in a criminal trial where double jeopardy issues arise.

Double Jeopardy in the Minnesota Constitution

Article I, section 7, of the Minnesota Constitution prohibits double jeopardy in Minnesota:

DUE PROCESS; PROSECUTIONS; DOUBLE JEOPARDY; SELF-INCRIMINATION; BAIL; HABEAS CORPUS. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law, and no person shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense, nor be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. All persons before conviction shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless the public safety requires it in case of rebellion or invasion.

Double Jeopardy in the U.S. Constitution

The Fifth Amendment (Amendment V) to the U.S. Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, prohibits double jeopardy:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

What Rights Do You Get from the Double Jeopardy Clause?

The Double Jeopardy Clause forbids four specific actions that could undermine the rights of citizens charged with crimes:

  1. subsequent prosecution after acquittal
  2. subsequent prosecution after conviction
  3. subsequent prosecution after certain mistrials and
  4. multiple punishment in the same indictment

When is the First Jeopardy?

To use the double jeopardy defense for a crime, there must have been a first “jeopardy” where the criminal defendant faced charges. Sometimes the exact moment when the first jeopardy arises or “attaches” is very important.

When a criminal defendant is examining his criminal proceedings, the first jeopardy “attached” when the jury was empanelled, the first witness was sworn, or a plea was accepted.

Double Jeopardy Law in Minnesota

Like most areas of the law, the double jeopardy doctrine is very complex. Many cases have addressed issues and challenges to what exactly entails double jeopardy. Use of the double jeopardy clause in Minnesota should be done after consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Image credit: Photo by Mr. Kjetil Ree. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Contact a criminal defense attorney.