I am currently debating this with my friend.

So in a hypothetical situation, Person A was falsely accused of a horrible crime, like say, rape or murder. However, Person A was found guilty anyway because of a lack of evidence to defend themselves. Person A serves some time in prison and is eventually released years later when evidence is found that they are not guilty.

My friend's claim is that Person A can now go out and fulfill this crime that they were falsely accused of with no legal repercussion. As they were already technically punished for this crime. He claims that double jeopardy laws prevent this person from being prosecuted twice on the same crime.

My claim is that Person A can not fulfill this crime without legal repercussion. My reasoning is because even though they already served time in prison for this crime, Double Jeopardy laws regard this as a second and separate punishable offense instead of a continuation of the first false accusation.

  • Could you clarify what jurisdiction you're referring to?
    – Ryan M
    Aug 19, 2020 at 2:31
  • 2
    Possible duplicates: Can “Double Jeopardy” be a loophole for murder? and Double Jeopardy?
    – phoog
    Aug 19, 2020 at 15:59
  • 2
    You need some new friends.
    – Just a guy
    Aug 19, 2020 at 19:33
  • If they can travel back in time, possibly. Otherwise, what do you consider “the same offense”? Victimizing the same person? Committing the same crime?
    – Relaxed
    Aug 20, 2020 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


(assuming United States law here, though I'd be surprised if it were significantly different in other jurisdictions with such restrictions)

Your friend is incorrect: that would be a new offense, for which Person A could be prosecuted anew. If your friend's logic were correct, once a person is convicted of robbing a store, they'd be free to rob that store without repercussions for life.

It's worth noting that the conviction isn't relevant: the prohibition of double jeopardy in the United States prevents even multiple prosecutions (except, in some cases, for separate state and federal prosecutions or foreign prosecutions).


I think the basis for this claim is the 1999 Double Jeopardy film. But it doesn't work that way!

Let's assume the horrible crime is µing somebody. Insert to your liking any crime for µ... or even jaywalking.

Person A was (falsely) charged to have µed Person B on AA/BB/YYYY and convicted. Now they somehow really µed B on CC/DD/ZZZZ after the conviction. That's a different incident with different facts, and thus a different crime, for which a new trial and a new conviction is to be sought.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .