Can someone who is released due to conviction overturned be tried for the same crime

Is it possible for someone who has their conviction overturned and set free to be tried for the same crime again?

Let’s say I am convicted of murder. New DNA tests get me set free. Then it is found out that the DNA results were fixed, or planted and I was erroneously set free. Can I be put on trial for the same crime again, or can I be taken back to jail on the basis of the original trial? Can anything be done? When I get set free does the “official” verdict get changed to not guilty so I can’t be tried for the same crime again?

Clearly I have no idea how the law works.


I think in your example it would be… Can a conviction that was subsequently overturned be later reinstated if it is determined that the evidence that led to the conviction being overturned was proven by a court to be falsified? I suppose anything is possible…

Generally Double Jeopardy prevents someone being tried twice for the same crime, but in cases with certain complications, such as mistrials, it may depend on whether the charges are dismissed with or without prejudice.

Depends on how the conviction was actually ‘overturned’.

If a new Judge orders a Not Guilty verdict, overriding the original jury verdict, then you are Not Guilty and can not be tried again.
If the new Judge just declares a ‘mistrial’, then the original jury verdict is nullified and it’s as if the trial never happened. The prosecution can bring you to trial again (if they think they still have enough evidence to convict). Often. they will opt to offer a plea bargain for a guilty plea to a lesser crime.

Note that if it’s a mistrial, you may not even get released at all. If the prosecution charges you again, they may argue against any bail (‘a jury already convicted him once, he knows that’s likely again, and so will be likely to run’) and might win. You might be moved back from prison to a local jail, but not released.

If it emerges that the defence deliberately falsified evidence, threatened a witness, bribed a judge, intimidated a juror, etc then it can be held that there was no jeopardy inthe original trial, thus there is no double jeopardy in the second trial. I would assume that the principle applies to being released on appeal, and then misconduct in the appeal is discovered.

I think that how it usually works is that the initial conviction is overturned, and then the prosecutor just opts not to re-try the case. Presumably the prosecutor could change their mind if some substantial new evidence appeared.

He was never released, but a man in Mississippi is on death row after his sixth trial for the same murder. Two of the trials ended in mistrials, and three of the four convictions were overturned (so far).

Thanks for the responses.

Jim Williams was tried four times for the murder of Danny Hansford. He wasn’t found not guilty until the fourth trial - the others were either overturned or had mistrials. Famously told in the book (and movie) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

When you are cleared on appeal it is most often on the ground that your original trial was in some way unfair, and the prosecution can have another go if they wish to.

Now, if the appeal results in a not guilty verdict or the prosecution go for the retrial and than ends on a not guilty verdict on the basis of the fake evidence then, if worse comes to worst, then you can always prosecute the defendant for perverting the course of justice, suborning perjury or some similar offence.

Here’s somewhat related question:

Let’s just say Bob abducts 4 people, holds them prisoner for three months, and then kills them. Bob get arrested by the police. The prosecution decides only to prosecute Bob for the four murders. Bob gets convicted. The murder charges are then overturned for some reason. Can the prosecution then arrest Bob for kidnapping the same 4 people if he wasn’t actually charged with that specific crime?

No, look up the term “lesser included offence.”

Ok, I so i read about lesser included offences. Would that cover every charge that came across during the original investigation or just ones that were directly correlated to the murders? For instance, in the scenario I described above, if cops had come across illegal drugs, illegal weapons and a stolen car during their initial search of Bob’s property could the prosecution charge Bob with those crimes after his murder conviction was overturned?

I assume you are asking about the case where is a conviction, a guilty verdict is accepted by the trial judge, but then later that conviction is overturned. Some of the other answers have been about different cases where charges are dismissed before trial, the original trial results in a mistrial or the original trial judge sets aside a guilty verdict by a jury.

In the case you mention it depends. The US Supreme Court has ruled against retrials after successful appeal of convictions if the appellate court finds that the original trial judge should have directed a verdict of not guilty based on legally insufficient evidence. In that case the appellate court directs a verdict of not guilty and the process is over. But if the conviction is overturned for other reasons, like new evidence, the appellate court may simply vacate the conviction and it’s like a mistrial: the prosecution can decide whether to try the case again. Most of the cases you read about like exoneration based on new DNA evidence are in the latter category. The original trial judge isn’t at fault for not setting aside the verdict since the DNA evidence wasn’t presented, and without it the evidence against the person might have been legally sufficient (meaning, enough to let the jury decide). With the new evidence the appellate court grants a new trial, but the prosecution if convinced the DNA shows somebody else did it, doesn’t pursue one.

For the US system, that is.

If you change the scenario slightly, and have Bob commit these crimes individually over some time period instead of abducting all four people at once, then the prosecution can choose to bring each case individually instead of lumping them all together. They may also choose to only prosecute 2 or 3 of the cases. That way, if one of the cases gets overturned for some reason, they still have Bob on the other cases, and if all of the cases get overturned, they still have the one or two that they didn’t prosecute that they can now go after him for.

Sometimes politics will factor into this as well. Some states have a death penalty, and some don’t. This can go both ways. Sometimes the state that doesn’t have the death penalty will refuse to cooperate with the one that does unless the state with the death penalty agrees not to seek death for Bob. On the other hand, sometimes the states will cooperate, threatening to seek the death penalty unless Bob pleads guilty in the state that doesn’t have the death penalty.

Some of this played out in the DC Sniper cases. Malvo (the 17 year old) had his conviction in Virginia overturned due to the ruling that mandatory life sentences for someone under 18 are unconstitutional. However, he still has six life sentences in Maryland, so even though his Virginia conviction was overturned, he will still remain in prison for the rest of his life. Muhammad (the adult) was executed in 2009.

Malvo and Muhammad were only charged in Maryland and Virginia. If Malvo ever figures out a way to get his six Maryland life sentences overturned, he can still be prosecuted for the murders that they committed in Washington (state), Arizona, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Having an entire conviction overturned due to a sentencing error seem extreme. I can’t find anything that reports his final fate, but everything I do find says his case was just returned to the trial court for re-sentencing.

He was originally given a mandatory life sentence. Life sentences for minors was later ruled unconstitutional. I am not familiar enough with the legalities involved, but it is my understanding that he is to be sentenced again, and this sentence may not be a life sentence.

The point here is that even though this sentence was overturned, his other life sentences in Maryland still apply since they were tried separately. The Virginia sentence being overturned won’t get him out of jail, regardless of what Virginia actually sentences him to. They could sentence him to time served (probably not likely, maybe not even possible, I dunno) and he would still stay in prison.

It’s a real-life example of why cases are sometimes tried separately to prevent once case from being overturned and this leading to the person going free.