How many times have you heard the story that a prosecutor will over charge a case against a Defendant? I understand the motive and the theory of the prosecutor doing this. The prosecutor often believes that the more charges or counts to an indictment added, the better the chances a Defendant will plead to some charges. Therefore, the Defendant ultimately pleads guilty.
It is not uncommon for a prosecutor to charge the same conduct in multiple ways so that in the event the case goes to trial, the jury will likely find the Defendant guilty in at least one of the charges for the same conduct.
This is the scenario in a recent case of Childs v. State of Alabama, from Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. The Defendant was charged with two counts of burglary in the first degree, one count of robbery in the first degree, and one count of rape.
The state’s version of the facts were that the Defendant went to a house and locked four people up in a room, burglarized the home, and caused physical injury to one of the victims.
The jury found the Defendant of two county of first degree burglary and one count of first degree robbery.
The Defendant appealed the two burglary counts for double jeopardy. Case Reversed.
The Appellate Court agreed with the Defendant the two burglary counts were one in the same conduct and violated the Fifth Amendment, Double Jeopardy Clause. The Court stated that that the state may prove two methods of burglary, they cannot be separate offenses in this case.
The Supreme Court Ordered the trial court to dismiss one count of burglary in this case.
Quite frankly, I am surprised that the trial court did not dismiss one of the counts of burglary before the case was presented to the jury. The trial court could have prevented this appeal.
If you or someone you know is facing a burglary or robbery charge, contact Birmingham criminal attorney, Ingram Law LLC, at (205) 335-2640.