People who are facing criminal charges have likely heard that there are specific protections they have as they go through the court system. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects defendants from double jeopardy. This means that you can’t be charged with the same crime twice; however, there are some caveats that you should know about if you are facing criminal charges.
One factor that might impact the charges you face is where the alleged crimes occurred. In the case of sex-related crimes, where the acts occurred could matter especially if the acts were across state lines. In this case, the concept of double jeopardy wouldn’t mean that only one state could charge you with the crimes if you committed acts in both states. Instead, each state could press charges against you in accordance with the applicable state laws.
In some cases, it is possible to face state and federal charges if the alleged crime runs afoul of the federal law and a state law. Even in that case, the concept of double jeopardy wouldn’t apply. You could face charges in multiple courts. If you are convicted in each court, you would have to face the sentences of each court.
There are times when sentences will conflict with each other. In this case, the jurisdictions would determine who is going to have physical custody of the person. The sentences could either run concurrent or consecutive. If they run concurrent, both sentences could be served at the same time. If they run consecutively, one sentence would have to finish before the next would start.
Understanding double jeopardy is crucial if there is a chance you will have to face charges in multiple jurisdictions. This concept, as well as others that could affect your case, can affect decisions that you will need to make.
Source: FindLaw, “Can I Be Charged Twice for the Same Crime in Different States?” accessed Jan. 17, 2017