Are there any exceptions to the law that a person can't be tried twice for a crime?

Hey, Matt:

I know we have a rule of double jeopardy saying a person can’t be tried twice for the same crime. But are there any exceptions? What if someday O.J. Simpson breaks down and yells at news cameras, “OKAY, YES, I DID IT! ARE YOUR HAPPY NOW? I KILLED THEM! NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!” Would there be any legal recourse? — LB, Poway

Sorry. No matter what he blurts out, he can’t be retried in California Superior Court on the charge of murdering Nicole and Ron. (The only exception would have been a retrial because of procedural violations or a hung jury.) But of course O.J. was tried twice based on evidence from the same crime — when the Browns and Goldmans sued him in civil court. Legally, this doesn’t constitute double jeopardy. Different court, different charges is the current reasoning. But the civil penalty could be only monetary. About the only venue left for the get-O.J. faction is federal. Somebody might try to get him locked up on charges of civil rights violations, as they did with the officers in the Rodney King case, when the judgment in state court didn’t go the way the prosecution thought it should have. Personally, the mere suggestion of a third O.J. trial gives me the overwhelming urge to throw my TV out the window. Goldman’s father offered to forget his multimillion-dollar civil judgment if O.J.’d make a public confession to the murders. Orenthal declined, so I guess we shouldn’t expect any confessions for free. Besides, the Juice is too busy looking for the real killer, who he believes is hiding somewhere on a Florida golf course. FYI, that “rule” of double jeopardy is sometimes known as the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

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