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Double jeopardy and one handgun – Fairfax criminal lawyer comments

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Double jeopardy and one handgun – Fairfax criminal lawyer comments

Double jeopardy arguments fail on multiple convictions for one handgun, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Double jeopardy protections under the Bill of Rights’ Fifth Amendment apply not only to successive prosecutions on acquitted conduct, but also for multiple duplicative counts for the same act. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know the necessity of always looking for such defenses.

Howard Groffel learned the hard way that one handgun strapped to his ankle would get him five Class 1 misdemeanor convictions and sentences, and not double jeopardy protection. That is because Virginia criminalizes transporting a firearm when a protective order is in effect. Va. Code § 18.2-308.1:4(A). Here, five protective orders covering five people were in effect at the time Groffel was caught with his revolver.  Groffel v. Commonwealth of Virginia, __ Va. App. __ (Aug. 20, 2019).

Fairfax criminal lawyer on double jeopardy arguments against multiple sentences for one handgun

Groffel was captured for jail escape, when a search incident to arrest revealed the handgun strapped to his ankle. Groffel argued on appeal that his multiple punishments for the one handgun violated his Double Jeopardy rights. (Groffel also was convicted for being a felon in possession of a separate set of firearms and ammunition, which conviction is not covered by today’s blog entry.)

Groffel concludes, 2-1, that Groffel’s double jeopardy rights were not violated, concluding that the statue is mean to protect each person protected by a protective order, thereby allowing five convictions for each of the five people named in the protective orders against Groffel, despite the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy clause.

Fairfax criminal lawyer awaits possible further appellate review of Groffel

Dissenting Judge Bumgardner gives his Double Jeopardy view: “The number of crimes committed by acts of possession or transportation should not depend on whether the forbidden status is defined by a protective order or a felony conviction.” Groffel. Stay tuned for possible further appellate review of Groffel either by the Virginia Court of Appeals sitting en banc, or by the Virginia Supreme Court.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor, DUI and weapons prosecutions. To discuss your case with Jon Katz, please call his staffa t 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation.