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Three arrested in Baton Rouge after cocaine found on plane

Any criminal allegations can expose a person to harsh potential consequences. Many Baton Rouge area residents may be aware of the constitutional protections against double jeopardy. But, fewer may be aware that courts generally recognize state officials and federal officials as separate entities for the purposes of double jeopardy analysis. That can create difficulties if allegations pique the interest of both state and federal officials.

Three out-of-state residents were arrested in October in Baton Rouge after authorities claim that the men were traveling in a private plane that contained nearly 72 pounds of cocaine. The men landed in Louisiana to refuel, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials apparently did not like the flight pattern that the plane was engaging in, and ICE officials contacted Louisiana officials about the allegedly suspicious flight pattern. Louisiana State Police descended on the plane and during a search claim to have found the coke.

The three men aboard were arrested on suspicion of drug crimes, although formal charges have not yet been filed. The men are being held in Baton Rouge under $1 million state bond, but federal authorities also have placed a hold on the men should they post bond.

That is where the double jeopardy conversation comes into play. The men could face charges in either state or federal court, or both. A dual prosecution in state and federal proceedings could mean that the men face the potential for two convictions based upon the same set of facts and circumstances. The men may need to defend in different systems on the same set of facts, and evidence and testimony from the state prosecution could be used by the feds (or vice versa).

Source: The Times-Picayune, “Suspects allegedly carrying 72 pounds cocaine on airplane withdraw motions in state court,” Emily Lane, Oct. 31, 2013

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