Cherokee County State Court heard the case of a young defendant cited with failing to wear a seat belt and driving under the influence (DUI) while under the age of 21. After he was cited, the court clerk assigned different case numbers for each ticket. An assistant solicitor general (ASG) amended the seat belt citation, for which the defendant paid the fine, and another ASG found that the young man was not eligible for the DUI/Drug Court. The solicitor general’s office then charged him with DUI-less safe, DUI per se (under 21), underage possession of alcohol, and following too closely. This prompted the defendant to invoke the procedural double jeopardy statute, which led to the trial court granting his plea in bar. The prosecution appealed the ruling.
Georgia’s Court of Appeals examined the young man’s case, noting that double jeopardy results from multiple prosecutions stemming from the same conduct. The Court granted that the defendant’s crime arose from the same conduct, but the defendant had to show that the solicitor general’s office was aware of the DUI per se when he paid his seat belt violation fine. Because the seat belt citation was assigned a different case number, the ASG had no knowledge of it.
Accordingly, the Appeals Court reversed the trial court’s decision and denied the defendant his plea in bar.