Armington’s Erroneous Contention of Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment[1] of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution ultimately provides the rule on Double Jeopardy:  “… nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…”

To raise the defense of Double Jeopardy, all three elements must be established 1) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; 2) the first jeopardy must have terminated; and 3) the second jeopardy must be for the same offense as that of the first.[2]

The issue, as to whether or not Armington can rightfully invoke the defense of Double Jeopardy against the civil tort suit – after having been found guilty in a criminal action – is resolved in the negative. Assuming for argument’s sake that the first two elements are present, the third one is not. The first element is shown as Armington has already been arraigned, and has given his plea before a competent criminal court. The second element is also confirmed as Armington has been subsequently found guilty by final conviction.

The third element, however, is absent. As all the three elements must be concurrently proved, Armington cannot raise the argument of Double Jeopardy. The second offense will only be regarded as the same offense as the first one when the evidence called for in one will be the same evidence needed to support conviction in the other. In the case at bar, the first is a criminal action while the second is a civil action.

Primarily, the evidence in the criminal action has to establish “intent to gain,” while that for the civil action has to substantiate the loss suffered – be it pecuniary, moral, or exemplary – for the injury done in order to be awarded pecuniary compensation by the civil court. Double Jeopardy, essentially, becomes relevant only when both actions are criminal in nature.

[1] No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. [Emphasis added] [2] U.S. v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 440 (1989).