Woman Cleared Then Arrested for Assault with Deadly Weapon in SF Nightclub Brawl (CA Penal Code 245)

Casual students of California law will find it surprising to find that, normally, when an individual is accused of a crime and then cleared of all charges, that person has very little chance of being arrested for the same crime twice.  Yet, this is exactly what has happened to a 25-year-old San Jose woman (name withheld to protect the anonymity of the accused) .  3 years ago, she was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon (CA Penal Code 245) in May 2011 in conjunction with a fight that occurred outside of a nightclub (Temple) in San Francisco.  The victim of assault, which occurred that January, was a UCSF medical student.

Local law enforcement officials believed at the time that she had assisted 36-year-old Richmond man (name withheld to protect the anonymity of the accused) in the attack and subsequent death by assaulting a bystander who attempted to stop the brawl.  Why was she cleared of all charges? Because the bystander moved to a new home outside of the county in which the crime occurred, creating a strange technicality.  However, police now believe that they have new evidence against her, evidence that they are convinced will help to convict her these 3 years later.

The salient legal question here is: when it is possible to be arrested for the same crime twice?  Doesn’t the Fifth Amendment to the United State Constitution prevent this kind of thing?  The answer is surprising, a person can be arrested for the same crime more than once if new evidence is discovered; alternatively, a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice once they have been exonerated.  Accordingly, you could be arrested for a particular crime, pay for bail and other related costs only to find yourself in the same position again when new evidence appears.  One solution to this is a practice that is becoming more current among attorneys, that of asking for judges to continue bonds for all clients so that their bond remains good no matter how many times a person is arrested.