Bryan Fischer, always eager to spout off on issues he knows absolutely nothing about, told his listeners this week that Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson cannot be charged under federal law because the Constitution forbids double jeopardy. He’s wrong on every possible level.
Citing the Fifth Amendment’s language that no person shall “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb,” Fischer laughably claimed that meant that Wilson can never be prosecuted for possible crimes related to Michael Brown’s killing.
“He was just put in jeopardy of life or limb,” Fischer argued. “No indictment was returned. He cannot be subject to the process a second time.”
No, you dolt. A state grand jury deciding not to charge him does not even prevent this particular prosecutor from filing charges (he doesn’t need the agreement of a grand jury to do so, he can indict himself if he wants). And it certainly does not foreclose federal charges. Double jeopardy applies only where there has been an actual trial and acquittal; the very fact that he was not charged or tried means there is no double jeopardy at all, even at the state level.And even if he had a state trial under state law, he could still be charged under federal law because it would be a different offense under a different law. That’s what happened to the cops in the Rodney King case, they were acquitted on state charges, then charged and convicted under federal civil rights law. There was no violation for double jeopardy because the statutes under which they were charged in the two trial were different. A few minutes of googling would have taught him this, but that would show some concern for the truth, something he lacks entirely.