In Double Jeopardy the Ashley Judd character is framed for the murder of her husband, convicted and sent to jail. Years later, paroled, she realizes her husband is alive and set her up — then decides to hunt him down and kill him. She can do this, the movie announces, because, having already been convicted of his murder, she can’t be tried for it again under the “double jeopardy” clause of the Constitution. As reader Robert Boardman, a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy, points out, this is nonsense. “The safeguard against double jeopardy states that a person cannot be tried for the same offense twice,” Boardman notes. But an offense is a specific act on a specific day in a specific place. Convicted of one crime on the a specific day at the a specific place, Ashley Judd could not be placed on trial for that crime again. But if her evil husband’s alive and she kills him, that would occur at a different specific time and place — and be a different crime, for which she could be tried. Crimes must be defined as specific events at specific times and places. Otherwise if someone robbed a bank, served time and got out, he could rob any bank he wanted, arguing, “Since I’ve already been convicted of robbing a bank, double jeopardy means I can’t be tried for robbing another bank.”
NewMexiKen was wondering about the Tommy Lee Jones character. He’s apparently Ashley Judd’s parole officer but he chases her from state to state. I thought that’s what U.S. Marshals did. Or am I just confusing Double Jeopardy with The Fugitive?