The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution (applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment) protects against being charged or punished twice for a single offense. In criminal cases, questions sometimes arise as to whether a particular criminal charge or procedure violates double jeopardy protection. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Larsen, W2011-00976-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 1-9-2013), a Defendant who pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) of an intoxicant raised, by certified question of law, the appellate issue of whether his Criminal Court conviction was a double jeopardy violation after he had already been “punished” in General Sessions Court by incarceration under a $1,000 bond, pursuant to the General Sessions Court policy of a mandatory minimum bond for DUI cases.
In the Larsen case, the Defendant had been charged with DUI and reckless driving in March 2009. But rather than being arrested, he was simply issued a misdemeanor citation. The Defendant appeared as required for a scheduled booking and arraignment. Then at his scheduled hearing date in Shelby County General Sessions Court, the General Sessions Judge noted that it was General Sessions Court policy in that county that all DUI charges have a minimum bond of $1,000 set. So the Defendant was taken into custody and eventually released on $1,000 bond. His case was referred to a Grand Jury and he was subsequently indicted with and pled guilty to DUI in Criminal Court.
Before pleading guilty, the Defendant sought dismissal of the indictment, arguing that his having been incarcerated under the $1,000 bond in General Sessions Court was punitive and therefore he had already been punished for the crime. The Defendant noted that bond was not necessary for him to sober up, since it was imposed months after the incident occurred. In addition, bond was not necessary to guarantee his appearance in court, as he had made all scheduled appearances under the terms of the citation before the bond was imposed. The trial court denied the motion, accepted the guilty plea, and imposed a sentence. The Defendant was allowed to appeal the ruling regarding whether his conviction violated double jeopardy protection.
The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction, concluding that the imposition of bond and incarceration prior to making the bond was not punishment (as there was no showing of an intent to punish), and was reasonable to assure his continued court appearances.
For more information about bond issues or double jeopardy protection, contact The Lanzon Firm.