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Top court decides 7-2 against

| Jun 24, 2019 | Criminal Defense

The United States Supreme Court chose not to expand protections against people who are being charged for the same crime by both federal and state prosecutors. The 7-2 ruling has major implications for many people, including Paul Manafort. Those in Virginia may remember he is facing both state and federal charges as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The case brought to the Supreme Court was for an Alabama man who was found guilty in a gun possession case of both state and federal charges. The man challenged the federal charges because he believed the charges violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment protects those found guilty of a crime against “double jeopardy,” being tried for the same crime twice.

Criminal defense lawyers for the man tried to get the court to turn over an earlier precedent that allows individuals to be tried with both state and federal charges. The justices ultimately decided that the man’s argument was “feeble” and wasn’t strong enough to turn over precedent set in previous cases. Though the majority of the judges agreed with the ruling, one judge wrote a 17-page letter saying that the court needs to not be afraid to turn over precedent when appropriate.

The rights outlined for citizens in the U.S. Constitution are an important part of the justice system. There are multiple opportunities for police and prosecutors to violate an individual’s rights. This may include not being read Miranda rights, being denied reasonable bail or searching property without the proper warrant. In the case of double jeopardy, a prosecutor may not re-try a crime against someone who has been acquitted of the same crime in criminal cases. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to protect the rights of a client who has previously been acquitted of a crime.