It may not be uncommon for those accused of criminal activity to face multiple charges stemming from the same offense. One’s conduct may warrant an array of charges, yet only when said conduct justifies such charges. The question then becomes whether that is truly the case.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many legal statutes, the answer to this question may not always prove clear. Much of it depends on what information becomes initially available to law enforcement authorities, as well as the circumstances under which prosecutors opt to proceed with a case.
Multiple offenses charged during a single prosecution
Illinois state law establishes that prosecutors may pursue multiple charges for a singular event (although the burden of proof remains to support each charge with evidence). However, according to Section 720-3 of Illinois’ Criminal Offenses Code, the state must know of all potential charges a defendant stands liable to at the time of prosecution.
What does this mean? Say that one stands accused of assault. Authorities arrest them for that and bring charges against them. Later, subsequent investigations imply that the person might have had a weapon with them at the time of the alleged offense (potentially elevating an assault charge to aggravated assault). If prosecutors do not know of the potential presence of the weapon at the time of the first prosecution, they cannot retry the defendant for aggravated assault.
Exceptions to subsequent prosecution
There are, however, certain exceptions to this statute. If, for example, a prosecutor knows of multiple offenses stemming from the same act at the time of a prosecution, they may still elect to try one for each offense (or a combination of them) at separate times.