The Double Jeopardy Clauses in the state and federal Constitutions aim to protect individuals from being unfairly subjected to repeated prosecutions and punishments for the same offense. As such, if a defendant is convicted on multiple theft charges arising out of the same incident, they may be able to successfully argue that one or more of their convictions may be vacated. In a recent Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple theft crimes, the court explained when the Double Jeopardy clauses are triggered and ultimately vacated two of the defendant’s convictions. If you are charged with a theft offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a Clearwater theft crime defense lawyer about what defenses you may be able to set forth.
History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with burglary, grand theft from a retail merchant, and two counts of petit theft. Following a trial, a jury found him guilty as charged. He appealed, arguing that his two convictions for petit theft arising out of the same incident violated the rule against double jeopardy. The court agreed, and the State acknowledged the error. As such, the court vacated his theft convictions; it otherwise affirmed his remaining convictions without further comment.
Protections Provided by the Double Jeopardy Clause
The Double Jeopardy Clause in both the United States and Florida Constitutions prohibits subjecting an individual to multiple prosecutions, convictions, and punishments for the same criminal offense. In cases involving theft convictions, where the offenses are merely variations of the core offense of theft, having dual convictions based on the same core offense is not permissible. This is because each offense is considered an aggravated form of the underlying offense of theft, and they differ only in terms of degree.