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Double Jeopardy, Simplified

Basically, Double Jeopardy is a legal term or rule that does not allow an individual to be tried in court for the same crime or offence more than once.

However, an individual can be tried in court for the same offence in the right circumstances:

  • An individual can be tried and found guilty or innocent in different courts for the same offence (federal, state, and civil).

  • New evidence can result in a new charge for the same offence.

  • An acquittal is annulled.

Double Jeopardy Clause

The flipside to the Double Jeopardy Clause is The Blockburger Test.

The Blockburger Test

Using The Blockburger Test, an individual can be tried and convicted of multiple offenses that originated from one incident.

How Accurate is the Double Jeopardy Movie?

The Double Jeopardy movie does not really contain elements of the legal Double Jeopardy Clause. Libby Parsons is convicted of murdering her husband and then killed her husband for real later on. These are two separate events and do not involve The Blockburger Test or the Double Jeopardy Clause. The Test and Clause are only applicable for the same event in one point in time.

An Example of Double Jeopardy

Mel Ignatow killed his ex girlfriend Brenda Schaeffer with a female accomplice. Mel went so far as to make a "kill room." He raped and murdered Schaeffer. After, Mel buried the body of Brenda in his back yard.

The police knew Mel killed Brenda, but her body was badly decomposed. Furthermore, forensics was at a stand still due to the condition of the body. Mel's female accomplice admitted to helping him kill Brenda and burring her in the yard. The accomplice failed to gain evidence against Mel for the police. Mel went to trial and the jury acquitted him.

Six months after the acquittal, Mel's house now had a new owner. The new owner finds a plastic bag under a floor board containing some jewelry and rolls of undeveloped film.

When the film is developed, it show photos of Brenda Sue Schaeffer on the last night she was alive, being tortured, raped, and murdered. Even thought Ignatow's face was not in the photos, his identifiable body marks were. Mel documented the whole murder.

Because Mel could not be tried for murder again, he was tried for perjury: lying to a grand jury.

About the Author

Peter Sandru

Peter Sandru is an Instructor & Co-Founder of NDIL with over 15 years as a Professional Private Investigator. Peter has spent more than a decade conducting investigations throughout the world, primarily for corporations, legal firms, and government agencies. Peter has assisted in the creation of numerous Toronto Private Investigator & security training programs in various capacities.

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