Double Jeopardy Essay

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| Double Jeopardy | | | | 05/11/2013 | Double jeopardy is a term we have all heard before. But do we really know what it means? According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, it is defined as “The putting of a person on trial for an offense for which he or she has previously been put on trial under a valid charge.” In laymen’s terms, that person cannot be tried for the same offense twice once a case is resolved. (Either by acquittal or conviction). Double jeopardy begins once the jury has been selected, the list of jurors is complete, and the jury has been sworn in. If there is no jury, it begins when the first witness is sworn in. For juveniles, jeopardy begins when the court first hears the evidence. It is crucial to know when jeopardy begins because any action taken by the prosecution before this happens, such as dismissal of the charge, will not prevent proceedings later against a person for the same offense. There are definitely times when a defendant should take the stand and defense attorneys may use this as one of their strategies. However, most of the time it will be only if the defendant has never been in trouble before. But if they have a prior record, by taking the stand, he or she is opening the door for that information to be used. This could ruin the defendant’s credibility. (Even if he or she is innocent of the current charges). Some jurors will view the defendant’s lack of interest in taking the stand as an admission of guilt. It may be that it is not the defendant’s idea at all but rather his attorneys. If he knows the prosecutor well, he may also know that the prosecutor may twist his client’s words around to “fit” his idea of the events that took place. Just as this play on words would be the

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