South-Western Legal Studies in Business

One Trial Sufficient for Related Charges
Description

Appeals court held that when a jury acquitted a criminal defendant on one of two charges, and could not reach a verdict on the second charge for the same action, that there could not be a retrial of the second charge or it would violate the Double Jeopardy Clause.

Topic Criminal Law
Key Words

Fifth Amendment; Double Jeopardy; Acquittal; Retrial; Drug Conspiracy

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Ohayon was arrested when he took a bag of drugs (MCMA or ecstasy) from a hotel room occupied by a confidential informant and placed the bag in the trunk of a car. At trial, his defense was that he did not know what was in the bag. He was tried on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and attempt to possess illegal drugs. The jury acquitted him of the attempt count and could not reach a verdict on the conspiracy account. The government wanted to retry him for conspiracy, but the district court held that his acquittal of attempt estopped the government from retrying him on the related conspiracy charge. The court dismissed the conspiracy charge. The government appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. Acquittal on a charge of an attempted drug offense required, under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, dismissal of the charge of drug conspiracy. It was clear that the jury found reasonable doubt that defendant knew he was acquiring drugs, and a conspiracy conviction would require the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant knew he was acquiring drugs. Hence, the government is estopped from retrying Ohayon for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute those drugs.

Citation

U.S. v. Ohayon, 483 F.3d 1281 (11th Cir., 2007)

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