I was curious about the application of Double Jeopardy around the world, and in particular the European Union, in the following scenario.

Someone commits a crime in England, the police arrest them. Rather than sending them to court, the offender receives a warning, caution, or similar outcome. The matter never goes to court.

Would the offender be protected against being punished again, for the same crime and facts, in another sovereign? I cannot think of a good example, so just assume it is a crime which another country can also claim jurisdiction over, for whatever reason.

Exclude countries that do not apply Double Jeopardy protections when someone has already served a sentence in another sovereign, such as the United States of America.

2 Answers 2


The constitutional protection against double jeopardy is found at s. 11(h) of the Charter:

Any person charged with an offence has the right... if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again

If there was no charge, you aren't even within potential scope of the protection against double jeopardy.

  • The police give you a caution, which is a criminal record you have to declare when applying for jobs, however you never went to court. Would that protect me from prosecution again in Canada? Apr 21 at 6:55
  • @user5623335 That's a different question. Try asking it. Apr 22 at 12:41
  • @PaulJohnson No, it is not. Read my original question... I clearly ask whether a caution, warning etc... given in a police station could protect someone being prosecuted again. Apr 23 at 2:23
  • @PaulJohnson This happens a lot on here, people rush to say the same old thing, which only typically applies to the USA, and fail to see the vital details (like police caution). Apr 26 at 9:05
  • @Jen I thought a police caution, warning etc... was a charge, because they all get recorded on your criminal record, and have to be disclosed to employers that do a background check (Disclosure and Baring check). So does a police caution, warning or similar count as a charge: yes or no? May 4 at 3:35

Double jeopardy doesn’t apply to different Sovereigns

The laws of one state do not bind another- so, as in your example, if the UK declines to prosecute or even if they do and you serve 20 years, any other nation with jurisdiction can also prosecute you. The same is true of sub-national jurisdictions - if I stand in Washington and shoot someone in British Colombia, all of the state, province, and both national governments can charge me, convict me, and punish me. However, Canadian but not US law, prohibits both the province and the national government from bringing charges - it has to be one or the other.

The convention is that so long as I have been punished somewhere, most Sovereigns will not seek to punish me again, but it’s a guideline, not a rule.

  • Clearly, you did not read my post. Exclude countries that do not apply Double Jeopardy protections when someone has already served a sentence in another sovereign, such as the United States of America. In the European Union, no member state (Spain, France, Italy) is allowed to prosecute someone that has already been punished elsewhere. Apr 21 at 6:52
  • @user5623335 I did read your post. You are not correct about Europe “ No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again in criminal proceedings under the jurisdiction of the same State for an offence for which he has already been finally acquitted or convicted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of that State.” They can prosecute someone punished in another state, they just don’t.
    – Dale M
    Apr 21 at 21:25
  • You are wrong, look at Article 50 and Article 54. In accordance with Article 50, the "non bis in idem" principle applies not only within the jurisdiction of one State but also between the jurisdictions of several Member States. fra.europa.eu/en/eu-charter/article/… Apr 22 at 1:46
  • Dale any updates? May 18 at 20:05

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