It is common knowledge that a criminal defendant cannot be convicted more than once for the same crime. Thus, if a criminal defendant is convicted for multiple crimes arising out of the same act it may constitute double jeopardy in violation of the State and Federal Constitutions. Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania analyzed the issue of whether a sentence for multiple DUI convictions for the same instance of driving while intoxicated violated the defendant’s rights. If you live in Pennsylvania and are charged with a DUI it is crucial to engage an assertive Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.
Factual and Procedural Background of the Case
Reportedly, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including three counts of driving under the influence – general impairment. He pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced, in part, to six months of probation for the DUI charges. The defendant appealed, arguing that his sentence was illegal due to the fact that he was sentenced for three DUI convictions for one drunk driving incident, in contravention of Pennsylvania law.
Fifth Amendment Right Against Double Jeopardy
On appeal, the defendant argued that his three DUI convictions were almost identical, in that each charge alleged that he drove a vehicle after consuming a sufficient amount of alcohol to render him incapable of driving, operating, or controlling the vehicle safely. As such, he argued that his sentences for two of the convictions must be vacated because they violated the State and Federal Constitutions on double jeopardy grounds. Specifically, the defendant argued that his sentence must be vacated because he could not be subjected to multiple punishments for the same incident of driving under the influence.