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What is double jeopardy and how does it apply to felonies?

Facing criminal charges is a hard road to walk down. If you are acquitted of the charges, you are likely going to breathe a sigh of relief. But, have you ever thought about what might happen if new evidence comes to light that might prove you were actually guilty? Generally, the answer to that is nothing. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents double jeopardy.

What is double jeopardy?

Double jeopardy occurs when a person who has been found not guilty in a crime is charged again for that same crime. In recent news, you might have heard about how double jeopardy would apply to the O.J. Simpson case if the knife found at his former estate ends up being tied to the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.

Are there any exceptions to double jeopardy prevention?

It is possible for a person to face a criminal trial and a civil trial because of the same action. That wouldn't be considered double jeopardy. Interestingly, it is also possible for a person to face criminal charges for the same crime at the state level and the federal level. In most cases, the federal government won't prosecute a case that was already heard by a state government unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

If you are facing criminal charges in Kansas City, you should make sure that you understand all of your rights. This includes those that are provided by the Fifth Amendment. Knowing your rights during a felony trial can help to ensure that they are upheld throughout the proceedings.

Source: Heritage.org, "Double Jeopardy," accessed March 10, 2016

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