Double jeopardy is an ancient general rule of English law that a person cannot be tried twice for the exact same offence . It’s a common sense insight that once the government has assembled its proof and put you through a trial, if there is an acquittal then it will be quiet oppressive if government could come back, learn from their mistakes, and trial again without any compelling new evidence . The double jeopardy rule was expelled from the criminal justice act 2003 with the goal that retrials can be allowed for serious offenses (for example, murder), if there was new evidence such as a new witness or a confession .
The amendments made in the criminal justice act 2003, altering the legal principle of double jeopardy in England and Wales, has improved our legal system in many ways. Throughout this essay I will be going through the ways this amendment has improved our legal system of justice. One case that clearly shows altering the ancient legal principle of double jeopardy in England and Wales, has greatly improved our system of justice is the case of Julie Hogg’s. Julie Hogg’s was one of the first cases that allowed double prosecution, Billy Dunlop was the first man in England/ Wales history to have been convicted second time around. Julie Hogg’s was murdered by her ex- partner, her body was hidden under a bath. Julies killer Billy Dunlop was acquitted of all charges to do with Julies murder.
Later on Billy Dunlop confessed to the murder but could not be prosecuted for Julie Hogg’s murder due to the double jeopardy rule. This case clearly shows the fault in the double jeopardy rule due to the fact that a full confession has been made to Julie Hogg’s murder in vein, yet, prosecution cannot be made due to the ancient rule of double jeopardy. Julie Hogg’s murderer was not convicted till 17 years after the crime had taken place. The amendments provided to the criminal justice act of 2003, altering the legal principle of double jeopardy in England and Wales allowed the case to be reopened in 2003 due to the fact it was a serious criminal case and new compelling evidence had come to light (Billy Dunlop confessing to murdering Julie Hogg’s).The case of Stephen Lawrence is another case that clearly shows that altering the legal principles of double jeopardy in England and Wales has greatly improved our system of justice. The Stephen Lawrence case is a case to do with a man who was murdered in the streets of London. When police were on the scene, they were seen to act un-justly and there response to the situation was not quick enough which could be seen to one of the reasons Stephen Lawrence died in the ambulance (this could be seen as omission to act), Gary Dobson was 1 of the suspects privately prosecuted by the Lawrence’s family. The case collapsed in 1996 due to lack of evidence.
The family were not able to prosecute Gary Dobson due to the double jeopardy rule even though new evidence had surfaced. The change to the criminal justice act of 2003 allowed the family to prosecute Gary Dobson for the second time. Stephen Lawrence family could receive the justice they deserved and Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty for the death of Stephen Lawrence. The main principles of double jeopardy is that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offence . These two cases clearly show that trials can fail due to many different reasons. The accused can be acquitted for a range of different circumstances and it would be un-justly for the guilty to walk free because they were acquitted due to a mistake from the prosecution and well knowing that they are free regardless of what crimes they committed.
Furthermore, altering the legal principles of double jeopardy in England and Wales, has greatly improved out system of justice. Another benefit that altering the legal principles of the double jeopardy could bring is that there could be a decrease in corruption. corruption is very common problem, and knowing if you walk free you cannot get prosecuted again due to double jeopardy could be an incentive to do so.In conclusion, I believe the amendments provided to the criminal justice act of 2003, altering the legal principle of double jeopardy in England and Wales, has greatly improved our system of justice. The new amendment that a case could be reopened if there is any new compelling evidence in a serious case (such as murder) is an improvement on the ancient double jeopardy rule. This is because oppression between the government and defendant is minimum, however, if new compelling evidence arises making defendant look guilty, then defendant can go to court again for the same crime and tried again.