April 14, 2023 By Paul Wallin

Double Jeopardy in California, Explained

Did you know that once you are found not guilty of a certain crime, you may not be tried again for the same offense? This concept is called double jeopardy, which is a constitutional right guaranteed to all citizens. If you have been subject to a retrial for the same criminal offense, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today to see how we can help protect your rights. 

What Is Double Jeopardy? 

Under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “No person shall… be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” In other words, the government cannot prosecute anyone twice for the same crime. California has adopted the same law through the state’s penal code. Under California Penal Code Section 687, “No person can be subjected to a second prosecution for a public offense for which he has once been prosecuted and convicted or acquitted.” This guarantees that nobody will be: 

  • Prosecuted after acquittal for the same offense 
  • Convicted multiple times for the same offense 
  • Punished multiple times for the same offense 

The purpose of the double jeopardy defense is to protect defendants against the burden of multiple trials. Furthermore, repeated attempts at conviction increase the likelihood that an innocent defendant will be found guilty. 

When Does Double Jeopardy Apply? 

To effectively raise the defense of double jeopardy, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you. There are several circumstances when double jeopardy applies. For one, you are entitled to raise the double jeopardy defense if you were previously tried for the same offense. Double jeopardy attaches when the trial begins, meaning the case does not have to conclude for you to raise this defense. Double jeopardy is also a complete defense to any prosecution for the same offense after an acquittal. This means that the prosecution cannot appeal a judgment even if there is new evidence that points to the defendant’s guilt. Similarly, if a defendant is convicted, the double jeopardy defense also applies. Once you are convicted of a crime, the government can no longer prosecute you for the same offense. 

Limits to Double Jeopardy 

However, it is important to note that there are limits to when double jeopardy applies. For example, you can still be prosecuted for committing the same offense in a different occurrence. This means that if you perform two separate attempts at burglary, you may be prosecuted for each offense separately. Additionally, double jeopardy does not apply if a jury cannot reach a verdict and neither convicts nor acquits the defendant. In this case, you may be granted a retrial for the same offense. Double jeopardy also does not apply in civil cases, even when litigation arises from a related criminal offense. Finally, double jeopardy does not apply when more than one government entity has a lawful right to file a criminal complaint for an offense, such as when a crime may be prosecuted as either a state or federal offense. This legal concept, known as dual sovereignty, provides that if a defendant can be prosecuted by either the state of California or the United States, both governments are free to pursue a conviction.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you have been subject to double jeopardy in California, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. At Wallin & Klarich, we seek to protect your rights and maintain your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid hefty fines and jail time. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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