WASHINGTON (CN) - Double jeopardy bars Michigan from retrying a man on arson after an improper acquittal the first time around, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.
Lamar Evans was charged with burning a vacant house and other property in violation of Section 750.73 of Michigan law. Officers testified that they apprehended Evans running away, carrying a can of gasoline, from a house that they saw erupt into flames in September 2008.
Under the misapprehension that the law under which Evans had been charged could not apply to "dwellings," the trial court granted Evans a directed verdict of acquittal, dismissing the case.
The Court of Appeals then pointed out that this holding was incorrect, and said retrying Evans would not implicate double jeopardy.
A divided Michigan Supreme Court affirmed in March 2012, leading the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari three months later.
"Seeing no meaningful constitutional distinction between a trial court's 'misconstruction' of a statute and its erroneous addition of a statutory element, we hold that a midtrial acquittal in these circumstances is an acquittal for double jeopardy purposes as well,"