*Emma J. Dorris
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “no person shall . . . be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” U.S. Const. amend. V. This constitutional protection, which prohibits the government from prosecuting individuals twice for the same crime, is known as the Double Jeopardy Clause. See David Cole & Somil Trivedi, It’s Time to Close a Loophole in the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Rule, aclu (Sept. 12, 2018, 11:30 AM), https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/its-time-close-loophole-constitutions-double-jeopardy-rule.
However, almost one hundred years ago, in United States v. Lanza, the Supreme Court upheld the federal prosecution of defendants who had already been tried and convicted in state court for the same crime, holding that “an act denounced as a crime by both national and state sovereignties is an offense against the peace and dignity of both and may be punished by each.” United States v. Lanza, 260 U.S. 377, 382 (1922). This has come to be known as the “separate sovereigns” exception and it “allows state and federal prosecutors to bring separate charges for the same alleged crime.” Cole & Trivedi, supra. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments on December 5, 2018, for Gamble v. United States, a case that directly challenges the separate sovereigns exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause. Gamble v. United States, SCOTUSblog, http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/gamble-v-united-states/ (last visited Jan. 18, 2019). (more…)