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The New Standard For Double Jeopardy In New Jersey

New Jersey Criminal Trial Attorney

What is double jeopardy? This is a term you may have heard on television or in the movies. And no, it does not have anything to do with the popular gameshow. The United States Constitution protects citizens from facing prosecution twice for the same offense. While states can offer its citizens more protections than those of the U.S. Constitution, they can never provide less.

Don’t underestimate the important role of a New Jersey criminal trial attorney during the entire criminal process. If you believe your rights are being violated, consult with someone immediately.

The Ins and Outs of Double Jeopardy

Jeopardy attaches at a certain point in the proceedings, which means that if the indictment is dismissed or the case otherwise does not proceed before the point of attaching, it is not subject to double jeopardy. For jury trials, jeopardy attaches once the jury is sworn. For bench trials (no jury), it attaches once the first witness is sworn in. And if the defendant accepts a plea deal, jeopardy attaches once the court accepts the plea.

Once jeopardy has terminated, the state may no longer detain someone for proceedings based on the same offense. Jeopardy can terminate in the following instances:

  • After an acquittal verdict
  • After dismissal by a trial court
  • After the granting of a mistrial
  • On appeal after conviction

Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court adopted the federal test for double jeopardy. The impact of this decision now makes it more difficult for defendants to prove double jeopardy when they’re charged with two related offenses.

Formerly, a defendant’s New Jersey criminal trial attorney only had to show that the “same evidence” test was met. This test, if proven, means that you cannot bring proceedings against a defendant when the same evidence is used for separate convictions. This was a broad application of the double jeopardy protection.

After the Supreme Court recently heard a case in which the defendant argued double jeopardy because two offenses he had been charged with required the same evidence, the Court held that the “same elements” test would be used in a double jeopardy analysis going forward. The “same elements” test determines whether the competing statutes contain the same elements. If they require the same elements, proceedings cannot continue due to double jeopardy. If each statute contains at least one unique element, however, there is no double jeopardy and proceedings may continue.

New Jersey Criminal Trial Attorney For Your Case

Because of this ruling, defendants are afforded less protection than they were in the past. This means that more than ever before, defendants must carefully choose an experienced and reliable New Jersey criminal trial attorney to ensure that their rights are not violated. Mark Catanzaro is well known as a top criminal trial attorney in New Jersey. Call today for a free consultation.


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