In Double Jeopardy starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd, Judd and her husband are a couple with a son. In order to avoid debts and looming bankruptcy, her husband purchases a life insurance policy with a very hefty payout and names their son as the beneficiary. Her husband then fakes his own death and frames Ashley Judd for murder. Ashley Judd is convicted of murder and sent to prison.
Upon release, she finds out that her husband is alive and posses the son. After his fake death, he collects the life insurance proceeds through their son. Ashley Judd then resolves to hunt down her husband, reclaim her son, and kill her husband. Because Ashley Judd already received a conviction of her husband’s murder, she believes that the doctrine of double jeopardy will allow her to kill her husband without consequences because she cannot receive prosecution for the same crime twice.
The Doctrine of Oklahoma Double Jeopardy:
The double jeopardy doctrine is in the Fifth 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”. The double jeopardy doctrine prevents:
- Prosecution for the same crime after an acquittal
- Prosecution for the same crime after a conviction
- Multiple punishments for the same crime
Oklahoma Double jeopardy only applies to criminal proceedings prosecuted by the same prosecuting authority. Thus you are able to receive prosecution for the same crime by Oklahoma state police and the federal Department of Justice.
Jeopardy must attach to protect your rights. Oklahoma double Jeopardy attaches in a bench trial before a judge when the judge begins to hear evidence and in a jury trial when the jury swears in. Thus if you show up on the day of trial and the Oklahoma prosecutor’s key witness does not appear to testify against you, your case will likely receive dismissal for want of prosecution. However, the prosecutor may rebring the charges against you. This is a viable attempt to prosecute you a second time without violating the double jeopardy clause.
Examples of Oklahoma Double Jeopardy:
If Ashley Judd receive charges of murdering her husband, then receives an acquittal, the prosecutor could not re-bring the case and try the case again in hopes of attaining a conviction. The acquittal is final. However, the prosecutor may bring another case with different charges if these charges do not constitute the “same offense”. In evaluating whether the defendant is experiencing double jeopardy for the “same offense,” Oklahoma courts utilize the Blockburger test. Offenses are separate under the Blockburger test when each offense includes at least one element that is not in the other. Many offenses have lesser included offenses. For instance, felony murder is the killing of another during the commission of a felony such as robbery. If a defendant receives a conviction of felony murder, he cannot subsequently receive a conviction for robbery. This is because felony murder contains all elements of robbery.
However, under the Blockburger test, a second trial may be allowable regarding crimes occurring during the same incident. But they must not be the same offense. For instance, if a defendant was screaming on a residential street in the middle of the night, he may be put under arrest for disturbing the peace under Oklahoma Statute Title 21, Section 1362. The officers will conduct a search prior to arrest. If they find cocaine in the defendant’s pockets, the defendant can also receive charges with possession of cocaine. The prosecutor may decide to have two separate cases and two separate trials. This is two charges even though they both stem from the same incident.
Application of The Rule in Blockburger:
So would Ashley Judd be legally able to kill her husband a year later if she has already received a conviction on his murder? Ashley Judd would likely not be able to do this under the Blockburger test. The circumstances surrounding the faked death would be entirely different from the circumstances surrounding the premeditated murder of her husband. While the offense charged (first degree murder) and victim (her husband) would be the same, the facts surrounding the murder would be different. Thus double jeopardy would not protect Ashley Judd. Rather, she should have sought to overturn her conviction using evidence that her husband framed her. Then afterward encouraged the government to prosecute her husband.
If you have any questions about Oklahoma double jeopardy dismissals or other Oklahoma felony or misdemeanor criminal charges we can help. Our attorneys have experience with the application of the double jeopardy and will go through the facts in your case making sure your rights are not violated.
Tulsa's Local Criminal Defense Lawyers
Are you looking for Tulsa attorneys who will fight aggressively for you? Our team of criminal defense attorneys have the experience needed in Oklahoma law to secure the outcome you deserve.