There are a great many things that can be changed or altered in a criminal case. The prosecution and the defense can ask the court to amend or reverse many decisions made previously. One situation in which that isn’t true is a judgment of acquittal for insufficient evidence. Once the judge in your case makes that decision, it is the equivalent of a “not guilty” verdict, and the Constitution’s prohibition against double jeopardy means that you can no longer be convicted of that crime. This hard-and-fast rule proved to be the key to a Maryland man escaping an assault charge for an altercation at a Prince George’s County supermarket, as decided recently by the Court of Special Appeals.
When you are facing a criminal trial, the U.S. and Maryland constitutions give you certain clear rights. One of these is the right to be present at your trial. When a court violates your rights, the law may give you certain options as a result of this constitutional violation. In the case of one man arrested in Montgomery County, a judge’s decision to declare a mistrial on a drug charge while the man was involuntarily away from court due to a medical emergency resulted in jeopardy attaching. This meant that the man’s constitutional protection against double jeopardy prevented him from facing another trial on that charge, according to a recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling.
Both the U.S. Constitution and Maryland law prohibit a person from facing double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime twice. As a part of this protection, if you go to trial, and the trial judge declares a mistrial over your properly invoked objection, you cannot be tried again unless a “manifest necessity” existed for granting that mistrial. In a recent murder case, the Court of Special Appeals decided to uphold a trial judge’s decision finding the existence of such a necessity, meaning that the state was, in this situation, allowed to re-try the man for murder after his previous trial ended in a mistrial.
The state of Maryland has adopted the law of double jeopardy, as set forth in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Essentially, the law protects citizens from being tried twice for the same crime. It is important to understand that double jeopardy is not a defense to the merits of a criminal case, but instead it is considered a “plea in bar” to prevent a trial from ever taking place. Courts have addressed the issue of double jeopardy in many criminal cases and have identified when it may be invoked and the extent of the legal protection. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is critical that you are aware of any and all defenses or legal protections available. An experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney would be able to assess your case to provide a strong defense to the charges brought.
In a recent Maryland case, the state brought charges against Wayne Warren, Jr., alleging the sexual abuse of a minor, shortly after he had already been tried and convicted on two of eight charges of the same crime. After the first case was resolved in 2014, the state discovered new photographic evidence in a storage facility, allegedly establishing the sexual abuse of a minor. The state decided to bring another action against him, using this new evidence, which had never been used against him. The new indictment, presented three months after the guilty verdicts were handed down at the first trial, included four counts, each charging precisely the same crime: sexual abuse of a minor.