What is Double Jeopardy?

According to the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “No person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” This guarantee is important because it prevents prosecutors from continually prosecuting until they come up with a conviction. Double Jeopardy prevents being prosecuted twice for the same offense.

Jeopardy begins when someone is charged with a crime. Here are the important stages to be aware of:

  • When Jury is sworn.
  • When first witness is sworn.
  • When court first hears evidence (for juvenile proceedings).
  • When a plea is excepted as an agreement between the defendant and prosecutor.

When the defendant is found innocent, jeopardy ends. The government cannot detain them for additional court proceedings. Therefore, it ends when:

  • An acquittal.
  • Trial court judge grants a dismissal.
  • Post-conviction appeal is a success.

Double Jeopardy is one of the oldest legal concepts dating back to 355 B.C. The Romans codified this principle that “the law forbids the same man to be tried twice on the same issue.

The Courts can bring further criminal action against someone as long as it is not for the same offense. For example, an individual who has stolen a car to facilitate abduction can be prosecuted and receive separate punishments for auto theft, kidnapping, attempted rape etc.

To learn more about Double Jeopardy, visit Legal Dictionary or FindLaw.

Criminal Court Process in Washington

Are you facing a crime in Washington State? In the beginning, if you are accused of a crime you must be notified of your charges. Many times the legal trial will be the end of the legal process to determine guilt or innocence. Here is an overview of the specific things that you will go through during the court process.

Source: Rivertoncity.com

Source: Rivertoncity.com


In Washington State, in order for someone to be arrested there needs to be probable cause to believe they have committed a crime. Usually an arrest will come after officers have gathered evidence and obtained a warrant. It the crime is witnessed, the officer can arrest someone on the spot.

The Miranda rights must be read to the suspect. The two most important pieces of this statement are that the suspect has a right to an attorney and also the right to remain silent. If these rights are not read correctly, a case can be thrown out.

Once the arrest is made, the suspect is booked into the police station, fingerprinted and photographed and valuables are stored. Depending on the case, you may be able to post bail soon after.


This is the first court proceeding in which the judge formally reads the charge and asks the defendant whether they plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. This must occur within 48 hours of the arrest and within 72 hours if they have already been charged.

Pretrial Hearings

This hearing will be scheduled during the arraignment. At a pre-trial hearing these things may occur:

  • A negotiated settlement or disposition is made.
  • Issues with evidence, witnesses, or the investigation are settled with the judge.
  • Conditions of release may be changed.
  • A trial date is scheduled.
  • Possibly a motion hearing will be scheduled.


At this trial, the prosecutor must show that there was enough evidence against the defendant to prove that the arrest had probable cause. If it is agreed, the case will continue to trial. Many of the cases in Washington State do not go to trial. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to a lesser charge they may in turn receive a shorter sentence and avoid trial.

The Trial

Both sides will present evident and arguments and then the judge or jury will decide if the defendant has been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the jury cannot agree, it will be declared a mistrial and can be retried at a later date in front of different jurors. Washington State has sentencing guidelines that are usually followed and judges can have more discretion for misdemeanor crimes.


If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime and need legal help, contact an attorney as soon as possible to get assistance and counsel for your case.


Source: Research.Lawyers.com