Double Jeopardy Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Double Jeopardy, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Double Jeopardy?

n. Trying someone a second time for an offense which he/she was previously acquitted. Despite new incriminating evidence being discovered, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits double jeopardy. Rarely, a person can be tried for a different crime even if some of the facts that were used in the trial in which they were acquitted are used in the second trial. For example: using the Federal Civil Rights Act to charge a person with violation of another’s civil rights by killing him, after a state murder case had resulted in an acquittal, as happened in the 1994 trials for the deaths of civil rights activists and freedom riders Andrew Goldman, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Viola Liuzzo, that occurred thirty years earlier.