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Double jeopardy refers to a constitutional protection that prevents any jurisdiction from charging and punishing a citizen twice for the same crime. However, if the military charged you with a crime, and if the state of Tennessee wishes to pursue redress for the same wrongdoing, the protective doctrine may not apply to you.

As FindLaw explains, military men and women are part of a more multifaceted judicial system than the average citizen. Not only are you bound by civilian law but also, you must abide by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When both the military and the local authorities want to charge you for the same misconduct — or if the civilian courts acquit you but the military still wishes to pursue criminal sanctions — matters can quickly become complicated. At first glance, it might appear as if the concept of double jeopardy safeguards you. However, that is not always the case, making it all the more important for you to understand the notion and how it applies to you.

Per the UCMJ, the military cannot try you or another servicemember a second time for the same transgression. This protection goes into effect as soon as either party of a court-martial introduces the first piece of evidence, whereas in the civilian world, the protection goes into effect once the court decides on and swears in a jury. Once either side introduces a piece of evidence, the military loses the right to retry you regardless of the outcome of the first trial.

While it is important to know when double jeopardy protection applies to you, it is even more critical to know when it does not. Double jeopardy does not apply to adverse administrative actions, as it only applies to criminal proceedings. This means if you had to forfeit your pay as a part of your punishment for one wrongdoing, you could still face a court-martial.

If the military had to terminate your court-martial proceedings because of lack of jurisdiction, it has the right to bring the same charges against you once it corrects the defect. This would not happen in the civilian world.

You may accidentally waive your right to double jeopardy protections, which is not possible in the civilian world. Finally, due to the doctrine of separate sovereigns, the military can try you in a court-martial for a crime for which a civilian criminal court tried you, even if the court ended up acquitting you.

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