Written by attorney Bill Powers

Double Jeopardy in North Carolina

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment protects against: (1) a second prosecution for the “same offense" after acquittal; (2) a second prosecution for the “same offense" after conviction (by trial or plea); and (3) multiple punishments for the “same offense." North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969). Article I, Section 19 of the North Carolina Constitution has also been interpreted to protect against double jeopardy. State v. Rambert, 341 N.C. 173 (1995).

A. Meaning of Acquittal

An acquittal under the Double Jeopardy Clause includes a dismissal of a charge for insufficient evidence or an appellate court’s reversal of a conviction for insufficient evidence. Greene v. Massey, 437 U.S. 19 (1978); Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978); Hudson v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40 (1981). However, in a trial de novo system, a trial after an appeal from the lower court without a determination of the sufficiency of evidence to convict the defendant in the lower court does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause. Justices of Boston Municipal Court v. Lydon, 466 U.S. 294 (1984). Also, a determination that a guilty verdict was against the weight of the evidence does not bar another trial. Tibbs v. Florida, 457 U.S. 31 (1982).

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