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How should the legal community think about double jeopardy in the wake of the Rodney King affair? The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment commands that no person shall "be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." At first blush, the federal civil rights trial of four Los Angeles police officers, following their acquittals in state court prosecutions, might seem a patent double jeopardy violation. However, the Supreme Court's dual sovereignty doctrine provides that two different governments' laws by definition cannot describe the "same offence." This doctrine forecloses the police officers' double jeopardy claim-the officers' first trial was for state law crimes; the second, for federal law crimes.
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