Can Prosecutor File Two Separate Criminal Cases Against Same Person?

April 27, 2013

Often a situation arises when a driver is pulled over and is cited or arrested for a crime.  Later, law enforcement realizes that that driver was guilty of another crime.  At that point, the law enforcement will attempt to make sure that all crimes driver (defendant) is guilty of are on the same complaint.  Sometimes, by the time the prosecution realizes that defendant is guilty of additional crimes, he or she already plead guilty to that first charged crime.  In an event like that, the prosecution should be prohibited because of a due process violation.  The Supreme Court in People v. Kellett ruled just the same barring prosecution for a “felon in possession of a gun” after Elmer Kellett plead guilty to brandishing of the same gun.  (People v. Kellett (1966) 63 Cal. 2d 822.    The challenge is to convince the prosecution or the court that both crimes are “closely related”.  The prosecution can also be barred when the prosecution was or should have been aware of all crimes committed and decided to charge only some (or one).  This later statement is based directly on Kellett.  Here is the quote

When, as here, the prosecution is or should be aware of more than one offense in which the same act or course of conduct plays a significant part, all such offenses must be prosecuted in a single proceeding unless joinder is prohibited or severance permitted for good cause. Failure to unite all such offenses will result in a bar to subsequent prosecution of any offense omitted if the initial proceedings culminate in either acquittal or conviction and sentence

Case in Point: I had a client who plea to a DUI in Los Angeles Superior Court and in a few weeks he receive a letter advising him that he is being charged with a hit and run.  The hit and run occurred on the same occasion as a DUI and the prosecution agreed to dismiss it based on Kellett.  Both California Penal Code section 654 and prohibition against double jeopardy prohibit such prosecutions.

 

Los Angeles DUI Attorney


So, if find yourself in a similar position, please call our office to talk to a drunk driving attorney in Los Angles directly at  (818) 921 7744 for a free case review. 

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