Currier was taken to court for criminal acts of burglary, illegal possession of a firearm and grand larceny arising from a single incident. Both parties came into a concession to server the cases into two distinct trials. Grand larceny was tried together with burglary as the first trial whereas possession of a firearm as a convicted felon would be changed on the second trial (Weisselberg and Whayeun 148). Interestingly, Currier got acquitted of the first trial in which he promptly proceeded to stop the prosecution team from moving forward with the subsequent trial. It was argued that his first acquittal would secure him from proceeding prosecutions as provided by the Double Jeopardy Clause. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Virginia disagreed vehemently claiming that the Double Jeopardy case did not apply in Currier v. Virginia case.
Virginia Courts of Appeal had acquitted Currier arguing that he did not participate in an act of theft in a reported burglary incident. He had been accused of grand larceny and burglary as the first trail. The prosecution team agreed to server the cases into distinct trails as a means of proving a criminal act of theft. Realizing that the Double Jeopardy Clause would be breached if the court proceeded to the second trail which implicated currier of firearm possession as a convicted felon (Davis 57). The defendants argued that Currier should not be subjected to a second trial based on the provisions of the Double Jeopardy Clause. The prosecution team managed to prove legal validity of the second trail and the Supreme Court of Virginia understood the logic. Its verdict stated that the clause did not apply in this case and that the severing of the cases was intended to protect Currier. Based on that motivation, the Supreme Court came in the understanding that the motivation was ill-founded subjecting Currier to the second trial.
It was noted that the prosecution team was unaware of the intentions of the defendants when severing the two cases. On one hand, the prosecution team agreed with the legal logic of the process with naivety as it did not address legal provisions that support the suggested logic (Brummel 315). On the other hand, the defendants were legally aware – of the provisions that were suggested in the severing process – by using the Double Jeopardy Clause to eventually prove the innocence of Michael Currier. This succeeded during the first trial in which the defendant was acquitted of any charges of colluding in the criminal act of theft.
The appellate court was questioning the practical applicability of the Double Jeopardy Clause in Currier v. Virginia case; in which an acquittal would prevent an accused from facing a subsequent trial (Davis 57). Currier was expected to face legal charges of firearm possession as a convicted felon. This trial would prove that Currier participated in the crime in which a safe box full of guns had disappeared. It was ruled (by 4 out of 5 judges) that the Double Jeopardy Clause did not apply for this case since the intention of the severing process was meant to protect the defendant.
According to verdicts issued by the appellate court, as well as the Supreme Court, Currier should have been subjected to a second trail despite being acquitted of the first trial. The severing process was supposed to ease the judicial process of determining Currier’s participation in crime (Weisselberg and Whayeun 148). The Double Jeopardy Clause could not apply to this case as its intention seemed to prevent Currier from being subjected to a second trial as initially agreed. Based on the above facts, the Supreme Court of Virginia was accurate to subject Currier to the second trial despite being acquitted of charges in the first trial.
Brummel, Valerie. “Parental kidnapping, criminal contempt of court, and the double jeopardy clause: a recommendation for state courts.” J. Crim. L. & Criminology 106 (2016): 315.
Davis, Frederick T. “International Double Jeopardy: US Prosecutions and the Developing Law in Europe.” Am. U. Int’l L. Rev. 31 (2016): 57.
Weisselberg, Charles D., and Whayeun Chloe Kim. “The Calm before the Storm: Selected Criminal-Law Cases in the Supreme Court’s 2016-2017 Term.” Ct. Rev. 53 (2017): 148.