Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

An Explanation of Double Jeopardy or Multiple Prosecutions for the Same Conduct in Georgia

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jun 04, 2018 | 0 Comments

Most people are familiar with double jeopardy. However, the majority of explanations of double jeopardy, and how the law actually works are incorrect. 

Today, as a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, my aim is to best explain double jeopardy, and then Georgia's version of the law. 

Double jeopardy in Georgia essentially protects individuals from being charged twice for the same criminal offense. The concept of double jeopardy is a protection that is guaranteed to citizens of the United States under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Amendment V. 

The very purpose of the Fifth Amendment is to protect people from multiple prosecutions arising from the same conduct. It is important to know, however, that this only applies to criminal cases. 

So if someone is found guilty and convicted of a crime in criminal court, he or she cannot be tried again for the same crime. This does not protect this individual for being sued by the victim of that crime. The victim could still sue for damages in civil court. 

In Georgia, double jeopardy is known as multiple prosecutions for the same conduct in Georgia. This particular Georgia Criminal Defense is defined by Georgia Law as:

When the same conduct of an accused may establish the commission of more than one crime, the accused may be prosecuted for each crime. He may not, however, be convicted of more than one crime if:

  1. One crime is included in the other; or
  2. The crimes differ only in that one is defined to prohibit a designated kind of conduct generally and the other to prohibit a specific instance of such conduct. O.C.G.A. §16-1-7.

Multiple prosecutions for the same conduct applies to all felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile convictions in Georgia. Under the statute, the accused may be prosecuted for two crimes based on the same conduct, but they may not be convicted of more than one crime if one crime is included in the other. 

Georgia Courts have one primary consideration which is whether or not the offenses arose from the same transaction. If the offenses do not arise from the same transaction, then it is not considered double jeopardy when charged with the two separate crimes. 

Although, the statute prohibits multiple convictions for the same conduct, Georgia Courts hold that when the same conduct of the accused may establish the commission of more than one crime, the accused may be prosecuted for each crime. Lunsford v. State, 260 Ga. App. 818, (2003). Furthermore, Georgia Courts hold that a person cannot be sentenced for both malice murder in Georgia and felony murder in Georgia. Nix v. State, 280 Ga. 141, (2006).

Practice Note:

Let's take a look at the following example:

“A” has been charged with committing assault and robbery in the state of Georgia. However, “A” cannot be convicted of assault in Georgia and robbery in Georgia because elements of the offense of assault are included in the robbery charge.

If you or a loved one has been accused of committing crimes in Georgia, contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney today. We can investigate your case and determine which Georgia Criminal Defenses apply to your case.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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