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Can You Face Criminal Charges for the Same Crime in State and Federal Court?

by | Aug 20, 2021 | Criminal Defense, Criminal Law

American flag and gavel -Can You Face Criminal Charges for the Same Crime in State and Federal Court?

Most people have heard of the term “double jeopardy,” but the concept of double jeopardy is not always well understood.

Protection against double jeopardy is written into the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The concept of double jeopardy prohibits the state government from charging an individual twice for the same case, for example, if you have already been convicted or acquitted for car theft. But this does not prohibit the state from prosecuting you in the future for another instance of theft of the same vehicle or a different vehicle.

Additionally, the concept of double jeopardy alone does not bar the federal government from trying the crime if it violates both state and federal laws.

Dual Sovereignty

Under the concept of dual sovereignty, which is a completely different concept from double jeopardy, if a crime, say, drug trafficking across state lines, for example, is tried and prosecuted by one or both state governments, this does not prevent the federal government from bringing charges against you for the crime you committed. One of the state prosecutors may choose to cede their jurisdiction, leaving you to face charges from just one state government. But, you could still face charges from the federal government under dual sovereignty.

An excellent example of dual sovereignty is the case of United States v Roberto Miramontes Roman. The defendant was charged with murder by the State of Utah in 2012 after killing a deputy sheriff that was attempting to arrest the defendant for drug trafficking. The state charges were acquitted. However, being that the crime violated federal law, the case was tried and the defendant faced several charges issued by the federal court. The defendant’s attorney attempted to appeal the charges, but the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case determined that the case did not violate double jeopardy.

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to Handle Your Case

Whether you are facing state or federal charges, you should not try to handle the situation alone. Local, state, and federal laws are complex and require the knowledge, experience, and resources of an experienced criminal defense attorney to not only protect your constitutional rights but help you understand how these laws apply to your case and what defense strategies can be used to achieve the most favorable outcome for your situation.

The criminal defense attorneys at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP, have more than 100 years of combined experience in practicing criminal defense law and have successfully handled over 200 jury trials and more than 100 bench trials. Our attorneys know better than anyone that you deserve a fair trial and the highest-quality criminal defense representation. Let us fight to protect your rights and interests. Contact us today for a complimentary case evaluation.