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WASHINGTON-The Supreme Court will hear arguments during its next term over whether individuals fined by a federal agency can face criminal prosecution for the same acts.
At the heart of Hudson vs. United States is the question of whether the Constitution's prohibition of double jeopardy applies when one legal action is criminal and the other civil. While the double jeopardy clause definitely prohibits two criminal prosecutions for the same act, lower courts have split over whether it also bans dual criminal and civil actions for the same act.
While the case before the court involves an insolvent bank, the issue also has arisen in workplace safety trials, particularly when a state court attempts to bring criminal charges against an employer that already has been subject to civil fines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.