Can I be convicted of a crime that someone else has already been convicted of?
The double jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution prohibits the government from prosecuting individuals more than one time for a single offense and from imposing more than one punishment for a single offense. It provides that "No person shall … be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb."
It is possible for the government to prosecute someone for several different crimes stemming from the same set of circumstances. For example, an individual who has stolen a car to facilitate an abduction resulting in attempted rape could be separately prosecuted and punished for auto theft, kidnapping, and molestation.
With respect to the prosecution of multiple defendants (as opposed to the prosecution of multiple offenses against a single defendant), double jeopardy considerations don't apply. Generally, there is no bar to the successive trial of different defendants for the same crime. But see Rymer v. Estate of Sorrells, 127 N.C. App. 266 (1997) (recognizing that North Carolina has eliminated mutuality requirement for defensive assertion of collateral estoppel; defendant may seek to prevent plaintiff from relitigating an issue that plaintiff has previously litigated unsuccessfully in another action against different party); State v. Suites, 109 N.C. App. 373 (1993) (acquittal of named principal bars conviction of defendant as accessory before the fact).
Probable cause is the level of evidence held by a rational and objective observer necessary to justify logically accusing a specific suspect of a particular crime based upon reliable objective facts. For example, a police officer may claim there is probable cause for attempted theft when someone is found trespassing on private property late at night wearing a stocking mask, in order to justify stopping and searching the person for possession of criminal tools.
It is incumbent upon law enforcement officials to make a thorough investigation and exercise reasonable judgment before invoking the awesome power of arrest and detention, and the standards for evaluating the factual basis supporting a probable cause assessment are not less stringent in a warrantless arrest situation than in a case where a warrant is sought from a judicial officer. The probable cause determination for a warrantless arrest is based upon the information possessed by the officer at the time of the arrest and not by later acquired information. Probable cause involves probabilities similar to the factual and practical questions of everyday life upon which reasonable and prudent persons act.; It is a pragmatic question to be determined in each case in the light of the particular circumstances and the particular offense involved.
If probable cause existed at the time of the arrest, the fact that investigation proves the person arrested to be innocent does not make the arrest unjustifiable.
In determining probable cause, all the information in the officer's possession, fair inferences from this information, and observations made by the officer, are generally pertinent. In determining the existence of probable cause, facts may be taken into consideration that would not be admissible on the issue of guilt.
Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, prompt judicial determination of probable cause is required as a prerequisite to extended restraint of liberty following arrest. A judicial determination of probable cause after a warrantless arrest must be made as soon as reasonably possible, but generally no later than forty-eight hours after arrest.
I am prohibited from giving legal advice, as this service provided information of a general legal nature. Whether a conviction may be obtained depends on all the facts and circumstances involved, including, but not limited to, whether the other defendant was tried on an identical charge and the outcome of his trial. For example, one defendant may be tried as a principal in a crime and another may be tried as an accessory. I suggest you consult wiht an attorney who can review all the facts and documents involved.