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Name: Evans v. Michigan
Case #: 11-1327
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 02/20/2013
Subsequent History: 133 S.Ct. 1069; 185 L.Ed.2d 124

Where trial court grants an erroneous midtrial directed verdict of acquittal based on a misconstruction of a criminal statute, double jeopardy bars retrial. After the prosecution rested its case in defendant’s arson trial, the court granted an acquittal because the prosecution failed to prove an “element” of the charge. However, the unproven “element” was not actually an element of the offense. The State appealed and the Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court reversed. Certiorari was granted. Held: Reversed. While procedural dismissals that are unrelated to factual guilt or innocence do not pose a double jeopardy problem, an acquittal, even if erroneous, precludes retrial. Here, the trial court misunderstood what facts the State needed to prove, erroneously adding a nonexistent element to the offense. This does not matter, as the substance of the court’s decision was to resolve the question of defendant’s guilt or innocence as a matter of sufficiency of the evidence; this precludes reprosecution.