Leopoldo Gonzalez was accused of sexual assault and lewdness with a minor. The jury acquitted him on the lewdness charge, but was deadlocked on the count of sexual assault. The district court declared a mistrial due to the failure of the jury to reach a decision, and set a date for a new trial.
Gonzalez petitioned against the decision, arguing that since the two charges were based on the same event, the double jeopardy law meant he could not be tried for sexual assault after having been acquitted for lewdness.
The double jeopardy law is found in the fifth amendment of the US Constitution, which states that no person shall be made to stand trial for the same offense twice. The double jeopardy law protects you from:
Prosecution for a crime after having been acquitted of that crime
Prosecution after having been convicted
Prosecution after a mistrial (in certain situations)
Punishment under the same indictment more than once
In some instances, double jeopardy also protects you from being tried for a crime based on an act a jury has already found did not take place under a separate charge. There are certain notable exceptions to double jeopardy. For example, if you have been acquitted of a crime in a court of state law, you can still be tried for the same crime in a federal court. Similarly, a member of the military can be retried in a military court, even after being acquitted for the same crime in a civilian court.
The laws surrounding when the principle of double jeopardy applies can be complicated.
Posted in Criminal Defense