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Following his sentencing hearing in his second federal case, Paul Manafort was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on state charges. What about Double Jeopardy?
At the start of any criminal investigation, attorneys attempt to determine whether the case will be prosecuted by state or federal authorities (or both). This is not always clear at the outset, especially with all of the joint task forces that incorporate multiple agencies into an investigation.
It may come as a surprise to many that alleged criminal conduct can often be prosecuted under both state law and federal law. Further, a defendant can be prosecuted by both state and federal agencies, at the same time, for the same alleged conduct. Although it seems to be double jeopardy, it is not.
Defendants can be charged in both state and federal court. The state and federal government are able to separately prosecute an individual, or entity, when the alleged conduct violates a particular law within their respective jurisdiction. Dual prosecution is permitted due to the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine of the Constitution.
The Fifth Amendment Right Against Double Jeopardy
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offense. However, the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine is an exception. If a crime is allegedly committed within each individual jurisdiction, as is often the case, a person or entity can be charged or indicted within each respective jurisdiction.
Although alleged criminal conduct can often be prosecuted in a number of jurisdictions, it is common that a singular jurisdiction takes the lead.
Only time will tell whether Paul Manafort has any potential Double Jeopardy claim or defense, or if there is any significant overlap with respect to the alleged criminal conduct. However, at the outset, it seems unlikely in light of the Duel Sovereign Doctrine. That said, the practice of prosecuting defendants in multiple jurisdictions, for the same alleged conduct, is controversial and ripe for continued appellate challenge.