SCOTUS- For double jeopardy, a criminal defendant has burden to show an acquittal happened
Fairfax, Virginia criminal lawyer pursuing the best defense, since 1991
On November 29, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued its second opinion of the term, this one another criminal case opinion.
In Bravo-Fernandez v. U.S., ___ U.S. ___ (Nov. 29, 2016), the jury returned inconsistent verdicts of conviction and acquittal under separate counts of the same statute. Bravo-Fernandez got his conviction overturned on appeal due to erroneous jury instructions, therefor enabling a retrial.
Because the basis of the jury’s acquittal was not clear, the Supreme Court ruled that Bravo-Fernandez had not met his burden under the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause to demonstrate in the first place that a jury acquittal had precluded a retrial against him.
When criminal defendants want to reduce vagueness in jury verdicts, they can submit proposed special jury verdict sheets that provide specificity about the basis for any verdict of guilty from the jury on any particular count.