Florida Court Explains Protections Provided by the Double Jeopardy Clause

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.


The court explained that Allowing multiple larcenies for objects that were stolen at the same time, from the same place, under the same circumstances, and with the same intent would violate the spirit of the Constitution, which aims to prevent individuals from being put in jeopardy twice for the same offense. In the subject case, the defendant committed a smash-and-grab theft of two chainsaws and a weed eater from the same merchant at the same location and time and under the same circumstances. Therefore, his conviction on three separate theft counts violated his state and federal double jeopardy clauses, and the court reversed the defendant’s convictions for the two petit theft counts.

Talk to a Trusted Clearwater Attorney

The state and federal constitutions provide criminal defendants with numerous protections, including defenses against being convicted more than once for the same offense. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is wise for you to talk to a lawyer about your rights as soon as possible. The trusted Clearwater theft crime defense attorneys of Hanlon Law possess the skills and resources needed to help you seek a successful outcome, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law by calling us at 727-897-5413 or using our online form to set up a conference.

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