Separate Sovereignty Doctrine
The Separate Sovereignty doctrine (also referred to as the Dual Sovereignty
doctrine) is a legal rule that allows the federal government and the state
government to prosecute an individual for an act that is a crime in both
state and federal jurisdictions without violating a persons' Fifth
Amendment's protection against Double Jeopardy.
The theory behind the Separate Sovereign doctrine was that the laws of
both the state and federal governments, as two sovereigns, were applicable,
the same act produced two crimes, and consequently a person could not
be placed in jeopardy for the same crime.
Here is an example: A bank robbery is both a federal crime and a state crime and thus can
be prosecuted by both the federal and state government. It is generally
up to the state or federal prosecutors to decide which court will handle
each case. Rarely will an individual be charged, convicted, and sentenced
for the same crime in both state and federal courts. See