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Supreme Court declines to expand double jeopardy protections

Virginia readers might be interested to learn that, on June 17, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid to expand double jeopardy protections for individuals charged with state and federal crimes. Experts say the case could impact President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was convicted on federal charges during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and could additionally face state charges.

The case before the court involved an Alabama man who was slapped with both state and federal charges for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The man contended that the federal charges filed against him violated his constitutional rights. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that no one should be charged for the same offense twice, a legal concept known as "double jeopardy." However, in a 7-2 decision, the justices upheld a lower federal court ruling that found separate state and federal prosecutions are allowed under the law.

While Trump's Justice Department argued in favor of state and federal prosecutions in the case, the ruling could come back to haunt Manafort, whom Trump has said he may pardon. In 2018, he was convicted on federal bank and tax fraud charges and also pleaded guilty to a variety of charges brought by Mueller during his Russia probe. In addition, New York has filed charges against him over some of the same offenses. That means if Trump ever follows through on his pardon overtures, Manafort could still be left on the hook for any state convictions.

Individuals facing state and federal charges may turn to a criminal defense attorney for representation and advice. The attorney might review the case and build a strong defense against the accusations, which may lead to either an acquittal or the charges being dropped. It might also be possible to negotiate a plea deal that reduces the charges.

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