Posted by on June 17, 2017 1:48 pm
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ACCUSED are TWICE PUT in JEOPARDY for the SAME OFFENSE

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ACCUSED are TWICE PUT in JEOPARDY for the SAME OFFENSE

The Government has no power to retry you after you are acquitted or convicted, and punish you repeatedly for the same conviction. It lacks the power to retry you after certain mistrials as well. Interestingly, the Supreme Court says the Double Jeopardy Clause protects you against conduct by the same "sovereign." In these circumstances at least, the Federal Government and each state retains sovereignty. In other words, the federal prosecutors are free to charge you right after a state court acquits you for the same offense, and vice versa. Dual sovereignty somehow lacks weight when it comes to nullification of unconstitutional federal laws, but as Joseph de Maistre wrote in 1811, "Every nation gets the government it deserves."
Greek, Roman, canon law, and English common law all recognize the natural right to be free from double jeopardy. It worked well for about a hundred years in America. By the 20th century, Congress and state legislatures figure out that if they enacted enough laws, and cause a whole bunch of statutory offenses to overlap, no one can be sure of anything. Everything becomes arbitrary from there. Just the way autocrats like it.
The next time you see a moronic headline like “Congress is on pace to make history with the least productive legislative year in the post World War II era,” remember two things. The national legislature is not a Chinese iPhone factory, and the proliferation of federal criminal offenses is flat out dangerous.
Truth be told, no one really knows the number of possible federal crimes. We have 50 titles on over 27,000 pages of the United States Code. Nearly 10,000 possible offenses are estimated to be on the books right now. Since the Supreme Court has recognized the dual sovereignty doctrine as an exception to double jeopardy, you can be brought up on one of those 10,000 as well as state charges. There are about 450 U.S. Attorneys and their assistants to bring those charges.
As a “self-imposed limitation” on its power, the Department of Justice uses the "Petite policy”. You should decide for yourself what the chances are a future Attorney General might just decide to change this "Dual and Successive Prosecution Policy" and start double prosecuting as many defendants as possible. The potential for abuse is ripe.
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