Federal charges and state charges for the same crime

In the news today, Michael Vick has been ordered to show up in person to his trial on Virginia state charges connected to the dog-fighting ring he is currently in prison for. I have heard, generally, from sports analysts that it is unlikely Vick will serve additional jail time.

I’m not positive this question applies to this case, because I’m not entirely clear on the different charges, but how does this work? I don’t know if this would be covered by Double Jeopardy, but can you be tried by the Federal courts and the state courts for what is the same action?

What if it was a murder? I would guess issues of jurisdiction would come up there.

I thought double jeopardy meant you couldn’t face the same charges twice? If one set of criminal activities violates multiple laws, I don’t see why you couldn’t face multiple charges.

Two different issues in play.

It’s not simply “different laws.” That is, the state can’t make it a crime to kill someone and call it “murder,” and then make a separate law with the exact same elements and call it “depriving society of a member,” and punish twice for the same conduct. That violates Double Jeopardy.

But you can be charged by different sovereigns (the state and the federal government) for the same conduct without violating double jeopardy.

Double jeopardy means that the same sovereignty cannot charge you twice (sequentially, not simultaneously) for the same criminal act.

Distinguish between “crime” and “criminal act,” to start with. Say you get drunk at a club in Bethesda MD, and punch out the Ambassador from Burkina Faso. You’ve committed a state crime, assault and battery or whatever Maryland’s laws term it. But you’ve also committed a Federal crime since offenses against ambassadors are within the ambit of the Federal courts under Article III of the Constitution. Same “criminal act” but two distinct charges, in two different sovereignties. Just as shooting someone with an unlicensed firearm from an unregistered motor vehicle while crossing a state line constitutes a single criminal act but includes multiple crimes.

IIRC the case is complicated a bit by there being several different acts involved in the case. Some of those acts are related to animal abuse, which is a state/local affair. Others are related to wire fraud related to illegal gambling, which is a federal concern.

In other words, the federal charges and state charges are technically not being levied on the same crime. If Vick had only allegedly committed wire fraud, it would be a federal matter only. If Vick had only been charged with acts related to animal abuse, it would be a state/local matter only. But he was committing both acts at the same time, so both jurisdictions are in play.

What if the car is on a treadmill?

The state could also charge him with the same crime, find him guilty and make the sentence retroactive.

In other words they could sentence him and give him credit for time served.

It’s similar to when you get two sentences, let’s say one for murder, one for kidnapping and the judge can rule the sentences are concurent (served at the same time) or consecutive (one sentence starts AFTER the first is completed)