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Law School Case Brief

People v. Fields - 44 Cal. App. 4th 456, 36 Cal. Rptr. 2d 777 (1994)

Rule:

Where the two offenses for which the defendant is punished or tried cannot survive the same-elements test, the double jeopardy bar applies. The same-elements test, sometimes referred to as the Blockburger test, inquires whether each offense contains an element not contained in the other; if not, they are the same offense and double jeopardy bars additional punishment and successive prosecution.

Facts:

Defendant was charged with, among other offenses, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, gross vehicular manslaughter, and driving under the influence and causing bodily injury. The jury reported itself deadlocked on the gross vehicular manslaughter counts, but found defendant guilty of the other counts. Defendant appealed, claiming that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury in the first trial on the defenses of necessity and imminent peril. Defendant further claimed that the second trial on the charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and a prior prison term allegation were barred by double jeopardy.

Issue:

Does double jeopardy bar defendant’s second trial?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that in light of the convictions and findings in the first trial, double jeopardy barred defendant's second trial on the charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and the prior prison term allegation.

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