The case of Amanda Knox and the possibility to be tried again in Italy brings into attention again the principle of double jeopardy that applies in the American court system, but not in many other countries.According to CNN, American Amanda Knox and her team of criminal defense attorneys are decided fight to prove her innocence after Italian Supreme Court judges ruled Tuesday she should stand trial again for the death of her former roommate in Italy. Knox spent four years in prison before an appellate court overturned her murder conviction, citing lack of evidence against her in the 2007 death of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia.
As CNN notes, U.S. officials might reject such an extradition request from Italy because it violates the U.S. legal principle that a criminal defendant cannot be tried twice on the same allegation, according to the principle of double jeopardy. However, Italy does not have this legal principle present in U.S. law that prevents authorities from retrying a criminal defendant who has been acquitted of a charge.
In U.S. law, the double jeopardy is prohibited by the 5th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that no individual can “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb.” This clause bars second prosecutions after acquittal or conviction and prohibits multiple convictions for the same offense.
In this context, for example, a person cannot be guilty of both murder and manslaughter for the same homicide, or cannot be retried for the same crime after the case has been resolved. A person can, however, be convicted of both murder and robbery if the murder arose from the robbery. However, the principle of double jeopardy is not violated when an individual is charged for behavior stemming from an offense for which he has been charged in a different jurisdiction or in a different court, for example a civil court as opposed to a criminal court.
Given the example of Amanda Knox and the issues arising from legal differences in the international law, it is important for any person accused of criminal conduct, and especially in an international environment, to ask for high-quality legal criminal defense and representation in order to benefit from the best criminal defense possible.