No double jeopardy but double penalty is ok?

A close friend of mine recently got a DUI in Wisconsin. This was his third in some 22 years and apparently he believed that this one would ruin his life (I say apparently because he committed suicide two days later and he had not mentioned it to any of us).

Given the extremity of his response I looked up Wisconsin DUI laws and certainly a third DUI is pretty serious but looking at it it seemed that they only started counting after Januray 1, 1989. I was mentioning this to friends that likely it wouldn’t have been ruinous and one of the guys there said that not only would Wisconsin get him but so would Illinois (where we all live). I thought this crazy but this guy faced a second DUI charge in Georgia and not only had to face penalties in Georgia but said Illinois is extracting its pound of flesh from him too.

My first thought is this smacks of double jeopardy but I guess that only relates to being prosecuted more than once. If another state prosecutes you for a crime can your home state also exact punishment on you? Can they just accept the other state’s conviction as good enough?

Something seems amiss here but I am not prepared to call this guy a liar especially since he is currently doing community service and classes in Illinois for his Georgia DUI (in addition to having punishment levvied against him in Georgia although I forget what that entailed).

Anyone know how this works?

[sub]Usual caveat that legal advice here is for entertainment purposes only, hire a lawyer for a real answer, etc.[/sub]

Double jeopardy provides three protections, preventing:

[li]Subsequent prosecution for the same offense after an acquittal[/li][li]Subsequent prosecution for the same offense after a conviction[/li][li]Subsequent punishments for the same offenses[/li][/ul]

These prosecutions must be by the same sovereign, however. In general, a state is not barred from prosecuting based on a conviction in another state.

However, such prosecutions don’t often happen because the same act is rarely a crime in two states. That is, a drunk driver who pilots his car along the highways of Wisconsin generally does not offend the laws of Illinois.

So based on nothing more than general principles, there’s not likely to be a criminal penalty from Illinois for Wisconsin’s DUI charge.

However, civil penalities, such as revocation of a driver’s license, are another story. Illinois is perfectly free - and probably does - impose a civil penalty upon its licensed drivers for traffic offenses committed elsewhere. For serious offenses such as DUI, especially with a history of prior offenses, it’s certainly possible that Illinois could have completely rescinded his ability to legally drive… and that, alone, may have accounted for his “ruined life” mentality.

All this is speculation based upon general principles of law, and not based on any particular familiarity with Illinois or Wisconsin law, so I welcome correction from those with more specific knowledge. And of course none of this is intended as legal advice, nor should it be taken that way. You are not my client, and I am not your lawyer. For reliable legal advice about civil and criminal penalties for a given set of facts, consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

The Illinois sentence (community service and classes) may have been an “in lieu of” sentence, where he was actually sentenced to jail or prison time, suspended, with conditions on the suspension being that he do community service and take the classes and that he avoid committing a crime/traffic violation. Suspended sentences often have conditions attached to the suspension, which if not complied with will/can result in a court vacating the suspension and imposing the jail/prison sentence. I’m being speculative here, but I seem to recall people mentioning Illinois as a state which sometimes sentences by the jail-time-suspended-on-conditions rather than a direct sentence to the conditions.

So his Wisconsin DUI offense was not only a criminal act in the state of Wisconsin, but may also be a violation of the conditions under which his Illinois sentence was suspended. Again I note this is speculative, but may explain why (1) Illinois might be interested in a Wisconsin criminal offiense, and (2) why he might have felt “his life was ruined.”

And that is not double jeopardy. If your sentence for offense A is “do a year in jail, suspended on condition that you do X, Y, and Z and do not commit another crime,” and you then commit offense B, you are due a single sentence for offense B – but you have also invoked a violation of the conditions under which your offense A sentence was suspended, and the full weight of that sentence may come into effect as a result.