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Should the Double Jeopardy Rule Be Modified?

Essay by   •  November 9, 2011  •  Essay  •  623 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,955 Views

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Task 3: Issues Analysis

Should the Double Jeopardy rule be modified?

According to Australian law, the Double Jeopardy rule prevents a person who has been acquitted from a crime from being tried again a second time for the same offence. It is the fact that a person can't be bought before a court again even in the presence of a confession or substantial new evidence that the rule has recently become a major topic of debate, with many disputing the rule, advocating that it be completely abolished or modified.

While there are many cases that could have benefited from a modified Double Jeopardy rule, there is one that evoked much attention in trying to change the rule. The case of Raymond John Carroll is an example of a severe glitch in the Australian legal system. In April 1973 the body of an infant was found on the roof of an Ipswich public toilet. It was the body of 17 month old Deidre Kennedy. In 1985, twelve years after the murder, Raymond John Carroll was found guilty of the child's death. However two years later, his conviction was overturned by the Queensland Court of Criminal Appeal and he was acquitted. In 1999 Carroll was charged with Perjury but again his conviction was overturned because the Appeals court saw his conviction as exploitation and a way around the Double Jeopardy rule.

There are many arguments and opinions towards this debate of whether the Double Jeopardy rule should be modified. All of which presented very compelling points.

Many argue that the rule should be left the way it is because it protects accused people from a life of intimidation and very costly legislation. Police could use this to their advantage as a way of punishment if they cannot get a guilty verdict for the accused. Also the Double Jeopardy rule gives closure for an accused person and their family. Continuously trying to prosecute someone would serve as punishment whether the person was guilty or not which becomes very unjust if the person is not guilty. Lastly, removing the Double Jeopardy rule may take the pressure off prosecutors and attorneys to 'get it right' (something about assembling credible, reliable and truthful evidence) the first time and cause them to rely on additional trials to get the outcome they desire.

Alternatively, many believe that the rule needs to be changed because it protects guilty criminals. People who have been found not guilty have later confessed to their crime but the law cannot touch them because of this rule. While it gives closure for some it also protects acquitted criminals and hides them from receiving their deserving punishment and serving justice. Also, with the availability of compelling new evidence, the law should be allowed to retry a person if the new evidence could prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt and punish the person for their unlawful doing. Changing the rule

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