Gamble v. United States
Full name: Gamble v. United States
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What is this case about?
This case could clarify rules about whether a person can be charged at both the federal and state levels for the same crime.
How did this case originate?
Terance Gamble was found with a loaded handgun in his car. Because he was a convicted felon, he committed a crime by having the gun.
Gamble accepted a plea bargain in Alabama. However, the federal government also decided to charge him for the same offense. He accepted a plea bargain in the federal case also.
He then challenged the federal conviction, claiming it violated the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment.
Case challenges 150-year-old precedents
Court cases as far back as 1852 have set a precedent to allow such prosecutions - because the Constitution provides separate sovereignties for the state and federal governments. It therefore has been reasoned that federal and state offenses are separate offenses.
This allows both a state and the federal government to pursue their individual interests in deciding whether to prosecute an offense.
An alternative argument has been made, however, that the Constitution simply limits prosecutions for the same offense - regardless of competing jurisdictions.
While either theory is arguable, in practice situations such as this rarely come up.
For one reason, the federal government typically does not pursue cases already tried in state courts unless a federal interest deemed important has not been vindicated by the state case. Some states also forbid charging someone with crimes they already have been charged with at the federal level.
For another reason, there often is little or no overlap in the two sets of charges.
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The court will hear the case in December
The Supreme Court agreed to hear this case on June 28, 2018 - the day after Justice Anthony Kennedy resigned.
Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 15.
More information about this case
For more details on the double jeopardy aspects of this case, see the Congressional Research Service report.