On his radio broadcast yesterday, noted constitutional scholar Bryan Fischer made the absurd argument that Ferguson, Missouri, police office Darren Wilson cannot face federal charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown after a grand jury failed to indict him, on the grounds that such charges would violate the Constitution’s protections against “double jeopardy.”
Citing the Fifth Amendment’s language that no person shall “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb,” Fischer laughably claimed that meant that Wilson can never be prosecuted for possible crimes related to Michael Brown’s killing.
“He was just put in jeopardy of life or limb,” Fischer argued. “No indictment was returned. He cannot be subject to the process a second time.”
Unfortunately for Fischer, this clause only applies to individuals who have faced trial, as it is designed to protect people from being tried multiple times for the same crime. Wilson, of course, was never “put in jeopardy of life or limb” since he never faced a trial for his actions precisely because the grand jury failed to return an indictment.