double jeopardy

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A defence to a prosecution for a crime, raising the claim that the accused is being placed on trial for a second time for the same offence. The so-called double jeopardy rule stated that no person may be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb for the same offence. Following the entry into force of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the double jeopardy rule was altered (s 75). The new measures only apply to serious offences (i.e. those carrying a maximum sentance of life imprisonment and for which the consequences for victims or society as a whole are particularly serious) such as murder, manslaughter, and rape. A retrial may now be allowed if compelling new evidence comes to light against the person originally acquitted at the trial. Examples of such evidence include DNA or fingerprint tests or a new witness coming forward. The measures permit the police to reinvestigate a person acquitted of serious offences in these circumstances, and enable the prosecuting authorities to apply to the Court of Appeal for an acquittal to be quashed and for a retrial to take place where the court is satisfied that the new evidence is highly probative of the case against the acquitted person. Consent must also be obtained from the Director of Public Prosecutions before the reinvestigation and the retrial can take place. See also autrefois acquit; autrefois convict.

Subjects: Law.

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