The 5th Amendment; The Double Jeopardy Clause and How it Works

What is Double Jeopardy?

Double Jeopardy shares its name with a game show, but, it is no game. The term double jeopardy has been around since 1905. Double jeopardy is part of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and states; no person shall be subject for the same offense twice.

If there is an acquittal, conviction or punishment for an offense, the subject cannot be prosecuted twice for the same crime. This clause also prohibits multiple punishments for the same offense. The defendant can still be sued by the victim’s family to recover damages even if they are found not guilty in a criminal court of law.This 5th amendment also protects defendants from having to testify against themselves. A witness may ‘plead the Fifth’ and not answer any questions they feel may be self-incriminatory.

Double Jeopardy Protection

Most criminal cases are eligible for double jeopardy protection because they can result in loss of liberty or life. Double jeopardy protection encompasses all felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile convictions.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the double jeopardy clause only protected subjects facing federal charges. Now, the double jeopardy law extends to state and federal criminal cases, and every state must offer the same level of double jeopardy protection.

Double jeopardy becomes effective once a jury is sworn in during a jury trial. If the defendant agrees to a plea deal, double jeopardy will not become effective until the plea deal is accepted by the court.

Termination of Double Jeopardy

Termination of double jeopardy occurs upon, acquittal, dismissal, a mistrial or an appeal after a conviction. There can be circumstances in which double jeopardy is not terminated.

  • After an Acquittal; If the jury issues a verdict of acquittal, the decision cannot be overturned for any reason terminating the double jeopardy clause. If the defendant is on trial for a crime and receives a guilty verdict on a lesser crime, they cannot be tried for the greater offense again since it is interpreted that the verdict for the greater offense is not guilty.
  • After a dismissal; If double jeopardy has been attached to a case and the court dismissed the case, the defendant would be protected against a subsequent prosecution for the same crime since double jeopardy as applied before the dismissal.
  • After a mistrial; If a case is impossible to finish or if the jury reaches a unanimous verdict, double jeopardy is not terminated, and the defendant cannot be retired.
  • Appeal after conviction; a defendant has a right to appeal his sentence. If the conviction is reversed due to insufficient evidence, the defendant cannot be tried again. If the defendant has a conviction reversed for another reason, they are at risk of being retried. If retried, a harsher sentence can be given. Most states prevent imposing the death penalty if that was not a sentence initially.

Dual Sovereignty

The double jeopardy clause protects defendants from being tried twice by the same government. If a defendant is prosecuted for a crime at the state level, they can still be subject to prosecution by the federal government. The U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed that the government of the United States is a separate sovereign from any state government.

Ronald Chapman

Ronald Chapman can help you if you are in jeopardy of being tried for a crime and ensuring double jeopardy is terminated in your case.

Defense Attorney West Palm Beach

Ronald Chapman practices criminal defense in both State and Federal Courts within the State of Florida. Since 1990, Mr. Chapman has been representing people accused of committing various types of crimes. If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, Ronald Chapman can help.

Schedule your FREE Consultation! Call (561) 832-4348 or visit his website.

Visit us at You can also connect with the West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Office online today! Ronald Chapman, an experienced criminal defense lawyer, dedicated to defending your rights. Contact him today to begin to discuss your case.


Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.
400 Clematis Street, Suite 206
West Palm Beach, FL 33401


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400 Clematis St. Suite 206, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Desde 1990, el Sr. Chapman ha representado a personas que han sido acusadas de cometer delitos de varios tipos, tales como DUI, violencia doméstica, posesión de armas, posesión de drogas, eliminación de antecedentes penales, infracciones de tránsito, asesinato, homicidio involuntario, abuso infantil, delitos sexuales, abuso de personas mayores, apelaciones y violaciones de libertad condicional.
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