The Double Jeopardy Clause

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If you ever heard the term double jeopardy.

No, I’m not talking about a game show.

I’m talking about a legal doctrine under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution that says people cannot be prosecuted twice for substantially the same crime.

Well, there’s some caveats and welcome to the surprising world of the Fifth Amendment in double jeopardy in the military. First, let’s clarify what double jeopardy is. The double jeopardy clause.

A United States Constitution in the Fifth Amendment prohibits any person from being twice put in jeopardy for life or limb for the same offense. This prohibition on double jeopardy means that generally speaking, a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same crime. However, two separate sovereign governments can in fact prosecute a person for the same offense without violating the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment.

This is known as the Dual Sovereignty doctrine.

The Supreme Court has upheld the ability for federal governments and state governments to both prosecute a defendant for violating both federal laws and state laws, even if those laws criminalize the same conduct. The same incident the court said where there are two sovereigns, there are two laws and two offenses. Now, yes, this is as complicated as it sounds, but let’s break it down real quick. The military federal system states their own system.

So the military and the states are considered two separate sovereigns, which means you could be tried by both the state and the military for the same incident under the UCMJ, you can’t be court-martialed twice, right? ’cause that is one sovereign that is putting you into double jeopardy. But if you’re already facing charges in the civilian world, the military can also charge you and vice versa. Does this surprise you? Well, if it did or you found this informative comment like, share or follow for more information on military law, and in the meantime, I’ll be defending those who defend America.

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