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Justice by Other Legal Means

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Det. Lenny Briscoe: So he gets off for killing the cop, but gets nailed for killing a cop killer?
DA Jack McCoy: An irony he can reflect on for the next forty years in Attica.

Sometimes the detectives/prosecutors have found out who the true culprit is, but there is simply not enough evidence to arrest/convict the perp.

However, sometimes the heroes demonstrate there are other ways to make the guilty pay that do not involve going outside the law themselves.

For instance:

  • Justice by Insurance: In this case, the criminal has gotten a big payout from the insurance company related to the crime he actually caused. In this conclusion, while the justice system's hands are tied, the evidence presented is enough for the insurance company to take back their money saying that it was obviously claimed under criminal circumstances. Of course, the criminal could be stupid enough to sue, but that means his crime could be fully revealed and he is really sunk.
  • Justice by Lawsuit: The prosecutor was not able to convict the criminal, but the evidence amassed could be given to the victim and/or his family as good enough grounds to sue the criminal for everything they have in civil court.
  • Justice by Loophole: Going through the normal court system would be guaranteed to be bogged down by red tape, but find an archaic or little known but otherwise still legal clause in order to wring some degree of retribution. This could be a law that promised a theft could be reimbursed through providing the victim with a cow and two sheep, and then enact red tape on the modern value of the cow and two sheep. Or it could be allowing a Duel to the Death to settle matters, all completely within the law.
  • Justice By Vendetta: The criminal has covered his tracks well enough to avoid prosecution...but then he goes and pisses off someone else who knows where all the (literal or figurative) bodies are buried. They get back at the criminal by telling the authorities everything they know, possibly in exchange for an immunity deal or plea bargain. This time, the prosecution has more than enough evidence to nail him to the wall.
  • Justice by Diplomatic Intervention: The criminal could skip the country or claim Diplomatic Impunity by his own nation, unaware that their government wants to haul him into their own courts and all they have to do is use the other country's court records to nail him to the wall. Alternately, his country's government might decide to revoke his diplomatic immunity or extradite him back to the protagonists' own country to be tried anyway.
  • Justice for Another Crime: The criminal can't be indicted for one crime, but he or she can get nailed for another. Tax Evasion instead of murder, for example. This one is often Truth in Television. May also be the discovery they had committed Felony Murder. If the convicted crime in question is disproportionately minor, it may overlap with Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life or Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot. This is also why most court cases have a litany of charges so that the jury can deliberate over all of them at once rather than having a Not Guilty verdict for the most serious offense and have Jeopardy become attached. Alternately, the criminal has committed crimes in multiple jurisdictions and is caught in one of them. A criminal might be convicted and jailed for armed robbery in one jurisdiction without the authorities realizing they've unwittingly caught the serial killer who's been terrorizing another jurisdiction.
  • Multiple Courts: Many countries prohibit or restrict double jeopardy, i.e. multiple trials for the same crime. However, common law permits cases where multiple jurisdictions have sovereignty; for example, a case that could be tried in the courts of multiple states or provinces, or a state court and a national court, or a civilian court and a military court, to be retried in other jurisdictions if the suspect is acquitted on the first attempt. (Some countries also permit retrial if new evidence is found, but strictly speaking that is Not an Example.)

A Sister Trope to Tricked into Another Jurisdiction. Contrast with Framing the Guilty Party (where the suspect's guilt cannot be sufficiently proven and so the cops plant evidence to get a conviction) and Vigilante Execution (where a vigilante kills the suspect after he walks).

Warning: These examples contain unhidden spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In a filler episode of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan successfully rescues a baby dinosaur from an evil circus owner who had abducted and was abusing it. As he flies away, the circus owner points out that he knows where the dinosaur's nest is: there's nothing stopping him from going back and stealing the dino again. The police further admit that capturing a baby animal for use in the circus is entirely legal...but the circus owner had, during the fight, taken a police officer's gun in an attempt to shoot the dino's angry parents. And taking an officer's handgun is a criminal offense.

    Comic Books 
  • In the 600th issue of Amazing Spider-Man, the Bar with No Name is shut down not for harboring criminals (which it does, but they all have already fled by the time the cops arrived), but for not having a liquor license.
  • In the final issue of the C.O.P.S. Comic-Book Adaptation, the team went after Big Boss for an unpaid parking ticket, knowing that his gang would try to stop them—and racking up tons of charges they could pin on the previously untouchable Big Boss.
  • Mr. Mastermind makes his debut in the comic book version of Dynomutt, Dog Wonder by holding the city hostage over the $ 1.47 fine he had to pay for a 49-day overdue library book. When Blue Falcon and Dynomutt find his hideout, he blows it up so there won't be any proof to get him arrested for the crime. Unfortunately, for him, he's 49 years overdue with another library book and ends up being arrested for it. He's so ego-driven he considers it worse than being arrested for the main crime.
  • In Justice Society of America, a confrontation with the Crimson Avenger reveals that Wildcat framed a man for killing his fiancé, but reveals that he only did that because he couldn't prove that the man had killed his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew after his brother killed the man's fiancé, although Wildcat insists that he just ensured the man's arrest and it was up to the courts if he were executed.
  • Happened a few times in Judge Dredd:
    • At the end of The Pit, Dredd has no evidence to convict Fonzo Bongo of being the head of his sector's branch of the Frendz crime syndicate. What Dredd does have, thanks to an observant rookie, is several hundred unpaid parking tickets in Bongo's name, earning him a sentence of twenty-five years.
    • In an old Daily Star newspaper strip, Dredd can't prove a crime boss sent a bomb to kill him, but he can get the guy for illegal parking. Since Dredd has no intention of towing the offending car, it will still be illegally parked when the boss gets out (after thirty days) and so the boss will essentially serve a life sentence for parking rather than attempted Judge killing. Once he hears this the crook promptly confesses on the grounds that if he were going away anyway he isn't doing life for parking offenses.
    • In Block Judge, Dredd mercilessly exploits this trope to get known gang leaders out of the way until he can find more solid evidence on them. Even put together, removing mattress tags and failing to finish a prescription don't come up to much more than a few weeks, but it's all the time he needs.
  • In Low-Life, Nixon can't prove that Tyrone Appleby of Lo-Cal is guilty of brainwashing and murdering rich fatties to take all their money. She collars him for soliciting a prostitute (herself) instead.
  • In Shaman's Tears, Joshua Brand is unable to arrest the Corrupt Corporate Executive for various crimes because the victims (genetically engineered lifeforms) are not technically human. So he instead arrests him for violating the Endangered Species Act after he realizes one of the genetically engineered constructs was created using the DNA of a black-footed ferret.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Zootopia, Judy is frustrated to find that Nick's "pawpsicle hustle" stays within the letter of the law since he has a vendor's license and a cross-district commerce permit, and he said the used sticks were "red wood", with a space. However, when she later needs his help on a case, she finds he didn't report any income on his tax forms and is able to record him bragging about the income he makes from his hustles. This enables her to use a charge of tax evasion to pressure him into helping her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for Laughs in The Campaign: Congressman Marty Huggins can't jail the Motch Brothers for their unethical campaign practices, because a lot of what they did was made legal by Citizens United. They instead go to jail for harboring Tim Wattley, who was really an international fugitive.
  • The Firm: The conflict of the movie is newcomer lawyer Mitch McDeere being in the middle of a conundrum: he can either rat on the criminal activities of the Amoral Attorney firm he works for and every client that it is associated with (which includes The Mafia) and get disbarred and most probably have to go into Witness Protection and/or get killed (which is the option the FBI is trying to force him to take) or do nothing and risk jail time for criminal obstruction. Mitch successfully ensnares the firm by using lawyer-client privilege to reach an agreement with the Moralto mob while proving every legal partner was guilty of overbilling their clients (a federal offense that will send everybody who did it straight to jail without the standard circus), thus allowing him to keep his status as a lawyer.
    Mitch: It's not sexy, but it's got teeth! Ten thousand dollars and five years in prison. That's ten and five for each act. Have you really looked at that? You've got every partner in the firm on overbilling. There's two hundred-fifty acts of documented mail fraud there. That's racketeering! That's minimum: 1250 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines. That's more than you had on Capone.
  • Attempted in Freebie and the Bean. The protagonists can't nail Meyers for racketeering until their witness returns, so they arrest him for indecent exposure (he once unzipped his fly in a park to fix his truss). Not only does it not work, the D.A. chews them out for letting Meyers know the police are interested in him.
  • Glass Onion: The culprit destroys the damning evidence against him for the murder of Andi and there's no evidence tying him to the murder of Duke, to Blanc's utter sorrow. But Blanc does give Helen the idea to destroy Bron's estate, including the Mona Lisa, showing the failure of his much-hyped product Klear. If the culprit doesn't face charges for that destruction, their reputation will be in the pits anyway.
  • This is how Walt of Gran Torino ultimately deals with the vicious gang that terrorized the Vang Lor family and raped Sue. After loudly berating them and enumerating their crimes for everyone in the community to hear, he tricks them into gunning him down in broad daylight, getting them all arrested for murder.
  • The Last Duel: The duel is fought because Jean de Carrouges can't hope for a fair trial against Le Gris; the feudal court system means their overlord Count Pierre, who's good friends with the latter, will be the judge. Carrouges has to appeal directly to the French king for a legal duel for any chance of success.
  • In Tapeheads, the main characters get revenge on a Sleazy Politician by broadcasting a Home Porn Movie of him on live TV, which gets them arrested by the FBI. They're acquitted of the crime but go to jail anyway for outstanding traffic warrants.
  • The Untouchables presents a good (although hardly perfectly realistic) depiction of how Al Capone, a notorious crime boss, was well-known to be guilty of crimes up to and including murder, yet since no-one could stick it to him, he was arrested for tax evasion.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bolivar Trask never suffers legal reprisal for planning to commit genocide on his fellow human beings due to intense Fantastic Racism in the American legal system at the time. Instead, he goes to prison for trying to pitch his killer robots to the Communist governments after America turns him down.
  • In Yellowbeard, the narrator at the beginning, after giving a laundry list of the title character's atrocities, including tearing men's hearts out and swallowing them whole, says, "Often forcing men to eat their own lips, he was eventually caught and imprisoned — for tax evasion."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e: In the supplement Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells, the devils will often do this to damned souls who successfully argue their cases. A damned soul can make a case if they use one or both of the following defenses: forced to sign a Deal with the Devil, or they did not receive the promised benefits from a Pact Certain. Now, it is entirely possible to win these cases... but it's also fairly likely that either some clause in the pact or the pactee's attempts to escape the pact have made their alignment Lawful Evil, in which case they're damned to Baator anyways. Devils find this sort of thing hilarious.

    Video Games 
  • Grid Legends: By the end of story mode, the racing commission is clearly sick of Ravenwest's on-track antics, specifically lead driver Nathan McKane frequently crashing his opponents and causing at least one massive on-track pileup that nearly cost another racer their career. While GRID is full-contact as racing goes, this was turning into a bad look, but the team's fame and team principal Ryan McKane's wealth mean the commission couldn't level sanctions that mattered without looking like they were either on a witch hunt or favoring other teams... until evidence of Nate's chronic cheating came to light. At that point the commission was so sick of Ravenwest that they completely ignored everything they had authority over and went for the alternate means: releasing evidence that the worst crash was planned, completely intentional, and deliberately targeted a specific rival; more than enough to get Ryan arrested in charges of criminal conspiracy and reckless endangerment, and leave Nate terrified once his protection and secrecy were stripped away.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Edgeworth does this unwittingly in Ace Attorney Investigations. He gets Ernest Amano arrested for helping Lance cover up a murder, to the great delight of Agent Lang. Lang had been previously unable to prove he was tied to a smuggling ring and now had a reason to take him in.
    • Later on in Investigations Edgeworth attempts to prove that Quercus Alba is the Big Bad leading the smuggling ring. Alba confesses to killing a man that infiltrated his embassy, but this means Alba will be tried in the courts of his home country. This forces to Edgeworth quickly investigate the possibility that another murder happened on neutral soil, and if Alba killed the other victim, Alba can be tried locally. Of course, Alba still needs his diplomatic immunity revoked first.
    • In the sequel to Investigations Edgeworth can't have the Big Bad Simon Keyes arrested for his connection to the other murders due to the fact Keyes didn't directly order the murders, only engineered events to make them happen. He does get Keyes eventually when it turns out Keyes personally killed the body double who had been masquerading as Zheng Fa's president for the past twelve years.
    • In the first game's fourth case, Phoenix was unable to prove that Manfred von Karma was the mastermind of a plot to murder Robert Hammond and frame Edgeworth for it. However, everything turns out to be connected to the DL-6 incident, an unsolved case in which Edgeworth's father was murdered... by Von Karma. The best part about this is that Von Karma intended for the DL-6 incident to be reopened as a backup plan to get Edgeworth convicted if he were exonerated of Hammond's murder.
    • In the first game's bonus fifth case, Corrupt Cop Damon Gant subverts this, forging evidence to get serial killer Joe Darke convicted for a murder he himself committed. Gant also sets up the situation to make prosecutor Lana Skye think her sister did it, effectively putting her under his thumb for years with the threat of releasing a key bit of evidence that would implicate Ema.
  • In Shining Song Starnova, Oda—an idol producer and Golden Calf Productions’ chairman of the board—is a paedophile who molests his preteen talents. Golden Calf’s acting CEO Kamijou can’t and won’t have him arrested for this, due to both a lack of evidence and the fact that publicly outing him as a paedophile would destroy the company. Instead, he gathers evidence to get Oda convicted of embezzlement and tax fraud.

    Web Comics 
  • Freefall: A man attempts to commit genocide just so that he could claim the victim's assets and he can't be charged with it because the victims, who were sapient robots, were not legally recognized as people at the time of the crime. He instead is convicted of attempting to enrich himself at his company's expense and the judge strips him of his money and forces him to get a bottom-level restaurant job. And that judge was being restrained. The other possible judge wanted to sentence him to a job working with extremely dangerous chemicals.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Christmas episode of the animated series Ace Ventura, Ace couldn't prove Odora stole Santa Claus' reindeer (she intended to use the secret of their gravity-defying abilities on a cosmetic) but could get her arrested for illegally keeping a crocodile from an endangered breed, which she also intended to use as ingredient.
  • Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder: In one episode, the Joker and his thugs, disguised as a filming crew, were looking for a treasure. It was later revealed the only treasure was a fake. The Joker thought he'd get off because he couldn't be convicted for looking for a false treasure he never found. He was then told he could be nailed for making a film without proper authorization.
  • In the Biker Mice from Mars episode "My Cheese Is Quick", Lawrence Limburger gets away with framing Charley for his murder by fabricating the story that he wandered the city with amnesia after the accident. The Biker Mice manage to ensure his comeuppance anyway by informing the IRS that Limburger is still alive and still hasn't paid his taxes.
  • Dan Vs.: At the beginning of "Anger Management", Dan is on trial for breaking into NORAD and attempting to launch the entirety of America's nuclear arsenal at the U.S./Canadian border to get revenge on a family of squirrels. After everything is said and done, trespassing is the only offense Dan is officially charged with when he just as easily could have been charged with treason and/or the attempted extinction of the human race. Justified as the U.S. Government wants everyone to remain ignorant of how easily Dan got a hold of the nuclear launch codes, broke into NORAD, and almost started World War III.
  • In the first story arc of Gargoyles, Xanatos nearly gets the Gargoyles killed several times over by hiring a mercenary squad to attack them, building a force of killer winged robots that level half of their castle, and manipulating them into breaking into a rival corporation's facilities. In the end, he gets sent to prison (for only six months, at that) for "Receiving Stolen Goods" after he's found with the technology that he had the Gargoyles steal.
  • Scooby-Doo: Many villains are often guilty of hunting for hidden treasures in abandoned areas wearing silly ghost costumes, which, all things considered, isn't really a crime so long as they're not actively disturbing/harming the public. Occasionally, the writers will correct for this by pointing out during The Summation that they may just be notorious criminals actively wanted in other locales, and are being taken in for something completely unrelated.
  • Had Season 4 of Transformers: Animated been greenlit, Word of God says that this would have been brought up. note 

    Real Life 
  • Al Capone is the Trope Codifier. His days as a Chicago crime boss ended with an 11-year prison sentence for tax evasion, the longest sentence ever given for the crime. Somewhat hilariously, the government couldn't make the case that Capone was a crime kingpin, but they could point to his lifestyle and spending habits and say he was earning money he hadn't paid taxes on. It was pointed out at the time that the government was consciously ignoring how Capone had earned the money (which they couldn't prove) and instead focusing on the fact that he had the money and owed taxes on it. It's also necessary to consider that when charged with other sorts of crimes, Capone usually got a "not guilty" verdict from the jury by having his men bribe or intimidate them. To make sure he couldn't weasel his way out of the tax evasion charges, the jury pool for his case was swapped at the last minute, and the trial was started before the jurors could be coerced.
  • O. J. Simpson:
    • After being declared not guilty for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in 1995 through a combination of incompetence on the part of the authorities and his lawyers making the very public argument he was the victim of racism, O. J. was later sued by the Goldman family in a civil wrongful death lawsuit, who were awarded damages in excess of $30 million. However, he's paid only a tiny fraction of this. The rights to a failed book deal concerning If I Did It passed to the Goldman family. It was a book in which Simpson presents the scenario of how the murders would have taken place if he had committed the crimes and public outcry ensured it never got publication. In 2007, the Goldman family republished the book with the new name If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer with the "if" so small as to be unnoticeable.
    • In 2007, Simpson argued that his current conviction and sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping is this for his acquittal for murder. Granted, the possibility was pointed out by the judge, who warned the jury that they could get removed from the bench if they used the murder trial as a prior prejudice. Though the general public thought he was all but convicted the moment he was arrested, it is also unlikely that many have sympathy for him about this. In an interesting contrast to his last trial, many believed that he was poorly defended, and also that the authorities actually did have an agenda this time around.
  • Jack McCall was found not guilty of murdering Wild Bill Hickock, despite doing it in front of several witnesses. However, the court his trial took place in was set up by a town illegally settled on Indian territory, so it had no authority. This allowed him to be tried again in the Indian territory court, without violation of double jeopardy under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. He was convicted by the jury and sentenced to death. His last words before hanging were in response to a question about why he shot Hickock, a famous gunfighter who had out-drawn everyone who ever faced him, in the back: "I wasn't looking to commit suicide."
  • A problem in the Southern US during the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan was that oftentimes a KKK member would be arrested for assaulting or murdering a black man, but would be acquitted despite overwhelming evidence, because the juries in the states where the KKK was most active usually contained KKK sympathizers at the very least, and potentially, actual Klan members; in any case, the juries were composed entirely of white people. So the FBI then began arresting the KKK members for conspiring to violate civil rights, which is a federal crime, and the perpetrator would therefore be tried in a federal court, whose jurors were not nearly so sympathetic. For the same reason, the proposal to make Lynching a federal crime - often advocated by the NAACP and others - was so viciously opposed by the Segregationists in the Senate. It would not have changed much in the law as written, but it would've changed the jurisdiction that got to decide on guilt or innocence. Lynching was finally outlawed in 2022 after more than 200 attempts to classify it as a hate crime.
  • British artist and fraudster Thomas Griffiths Wainewright fled arrest for the poisoning of his sister-in-law (he was also suspected of poisoning his uncle, mother-in-law, and his friend, in order to cash in on their life insurances) and took refuge in France. Since this was the 1830s, there was no surviving evidence to convict him of murder when he voluntarily returned to Britain seven years later. There was, however, enough to convict him of a forgery case that had taken place in 1824, and he was deported to a harsh penal colony in Tasmania where he died before a decade passed.
  • Another 19th-century criminal, Edward Rulloff, could not be prosecuted for the murders of his wife and daughter according to the laws of the time because their bodies were never found. But he could be tried and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the kidnapping of his wife because it was considered that she would never leave the family home of her own free will without taking a single one of her items with her.
  • Former US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was sent to prison this way. He was accused of sex offenses with young men during his time as a wrestling coach, before going into politics, but the alleged offenses occurred so long ago that the Statute of Limitations had expired. However, he was convicted of a financial offense (under the PATRIOT Act that he helped pass into law) related to his attempts to bribe one of the victims into keeping silent.
  • Following the acquittal of the police officers involved in the Rodney King beating by an all-white jury, the presiding judge doxxed every last juror. This was significant because normally, the names of the jurors in a trial are not released for a specified period of time. This was recounted in one interview featured in Twilight: Los Angeles. All the officers involved were later charged with and convicted of federal civil rights violations as well.
  • Former Chicago Police Department detective and commander Jon Burge was notorious for torturing more than 200 criminal suspects (mostly minorities) between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions. Burge was acquitted of police brutality charges in 1989 after his trial resulted in a hung jury and a lot of additional evidence that was stacked against him couldn't be used because of the statute of limitations. Nonetheless, Burge was arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury in relation to a civil suit regarding the torture allegations against him as perjury has no such statute of limitations.
  • "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli became the most hated CEO in America after he raised the price of an AIDS-related drug by over 5,000%. However, raising a price of a drug he owns is legal, so nothing could be done about that. Then it was discovered that he was involved in a Ponzi-like scheme, which is a federal crime. Also, it turns out that making yourself the most hated CEO in America is not conducive to getting an unbiased jury. Shkreli was ultimately sentenced to 7 years in prison, crying in court while his verdict was read.
    The Court: The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind. Can you do that?
  • The State of Michigan was so horrified by Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck's murder of young widow Delphine Downing and her two-year-old daughter, Rainelle, that they declined to pursue any charges against them. Instead, they were extradited to New York, where they were wanted for another murder, because New York had the death penalty, while it had been abolished for over a century in Michigan. They were found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death in the electric chair even though it was arguably an impulsive action by Beck alone, unlike the murder of the Downings, which was complex and premeditated. Had Fernandez not pleaded guilty and somehow beaten the charge by blaming Beck, as his defense wanted, the State of New York was ready to extradite him to Spain, where his first murder took place and he could be sentenced to death by garrote.
  • Melvin Ignatow of Louisville, Kentucky murdered his girlfriend, Brenda Sue Schaefer. He beat the charge and was acquitted, having sold his house to pay for the defense. Apparently, he had forgotten he'd hidden incriminating photos under the carpet. The new homeowners ripped up the carpet and found solid proof that he did, in fact, commit the crime. Because of double jeopardy, he couldn't be charged with the murder again, but he had lied under oath when he testified that he didn't do it. He went to federal prison for perjury to serve five years of a eight year sentence. Upon release he was convicted again of perjury, this time for his testimony during a trial where he accused Schaefers Schaefer's boss of threatening him, and received nine years in state prison.
  • Jack Gilbert Graham was the first American ever arrested for blowing up a commercial airliner when he was accused of blowing up United Airlines Flight 629 in 1955. However, when prosecutors looked in the federal statutes, they discovered that no one had actually bothered to make it a crime to blow up an airplane. So they turned the case over to state prosecutors, who indicted, tried, and convicted him on a single charge of first-degree murder (for his mother, who was one of the passengers and unwittingly carried the bomb aboard).
  • The rare "perjury trap" usually involves a form of this, and works like this: A person committed a crime that is now outside the statute of limitations. A prosecutor calls them to the stand in some trial related to the crime. The prosecutor then specifically asks the person about the previous crime, and the person, who doesn't want to reveal their involvement, lies about it. Now the prosecutor brings a perjury charge as they can prove the person lied on the stand.
  • One notable exception to the "no double jeopardy" rule in the United States is the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A military service member who is subject to it and commits a crime "out in town" (not on military property) that is an offense in both the local and military legal systems can be tried in both, so it is possible for someone to be acquitted by a civilian court but convicted by a court martial for the same offense, or vice versa.
  • Invoked by World War II-era United Kingdom with the Treachery Act 1940. As the then-existing crime of treason had special rules that made it difficult to prove and prosecute, and because treason law was believed not to apply to saboteurs, Parliament created the new crime of treachery, very similar to treason but without the special rules and definitely applicable to saboteurs. After WWII, the special rules for treason were abolished and the Treachery Act was repealed.
  • Invoked by the War Crimes group during the Postwar Period. As genocide fell outside of their jurisdiction they could not investigate concentration camp personnel for killing German Holocaust victims, only those of Allied nationalities, which made it impossible to prosecute Holocaust perpetrators for murders of German Jews and political prisoners in camps within Germany such as Ravensbruck, or the murders of disabled Germans in the T4 program. However, it just so happened that many concentration camp inmates were from other nations, meaning that personnel could be held legally responsible for war crimes, which did fall under the War Crimes group's jurisdiction. This allowed them to hang concentration camp personnel and other Holocaust perpetrators with impunity. A specific example of this would be the prosecution of the staff of the Hadamar Clinic, a children's clinic where mentally and physically handicapped people were murdered. After Hadamar was occupied by the US army they attempted to prosecute the staff for murdering children but found that since the children were German citizens they had no jurisdiction. Following an investigation, however, they discovered that a few Polish and Russian adults had also been killed there, giving them an excuse to try the staff for war crimes.
  • Mob boss Vito Genovese was acquitted of murdering a minor gangster named Ferdinand Boccia after several prosecution witnesses were murdered. However, he was later convicted of drug running through perjury and died in jail. Many have since questioned the flaws in Genovese's conviction as it would have been OOC for him to directly involve himself in any racket, let alone a drug operation, arguing that the Mafia's totem pole-like hierarchy shields the boss from legal prosecution. Plus, the key witness was a petty dealer who reportedly got paid by Genovese's rivals in retaliation for the legal fallout from the 1957 Apalachin summit, during which 60 mafiosi were detained when local cops became suspicious of the expensive cars parked at the ranch of mobster Joe Barbara.
  • In 1966, a man named Mike DeBardeleben was acquitted of raping a young girl because she got in his car willingly. In 1983, he was arrested again, this time for counterfeiting. In the course of the investigation, police searched DeBardeleben's locker and found evidence that he was a Serial Killer and rapist. DeBardeleben died in prison in 2011.
  • A Cleveland man named Joseph Kerwin was acquitted in 1903 of murdering a couple of prostitutes because police were unable to obtain a warrant. He was later arrested in Michigan for choking and robbing a woman. When Michigan police heard about the case, they used the fact that the robbery occurred on a ferry as an excuse to charge Kerwin with piracy, which carried a minimum sentence of life in prison, rather than robbery.
  • Louis Riel, the leader of a Canadian Indigenous settlement, took 48 members of the Red River Settlement hostage in 1870 for undermining his authority. When one of the hostages, Thomas Scott, insulted his guards, Riel charged him with insubordination and had him shot. He managed to escape arrest for this crime but was later apprehended while trying to overthrow the Canadian government, tried for treason, convicted, and hanged. As one of the jurors at his trial remarked, "We tried Riel for treason and he was hanged for the murder of Scott".
  • Alfred Leonard Cline was accused of being The Bluebeard but couldn't be convicted because all nine of his wives had conveniently been cremated after death, so whether or not they were killed unlawfully could not be established. However, he was convicted of forging his victim's wills so he could inherit their money and sentenced to 126 years in prison.
  • Dentist Gilberto Nunez was acquitted of murdering his neighbour by drugging him with sedatives, only to be convicted of twelve felonies relating to several crimes he committed in the course of planning the crime.
  • While some countries claim "universal jurisdiction" for certain crimes (a citizen can be held responsible for a crime committed abroad - in some cases even if the act is legal in the jurisdiction it occurred in) applying to their own citizens, only a handful of countries (and then only for particularly heinous crimes) claim universal jurisdiction for crimes of non-citizens abroad (The German Volkerstrafgesetzbuch is a case in point which has been used a couple of times in the 21st century to prosecute war criminals who had since immigrated to Germany for crimes committed in their home countries). However, what is quite common is for states to assert jurisdiction for crimes committed against its own citizens - even if abroad and even if legal under local law. For example, Spain tried to convict Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (who had already been convicted in the UK under universal jurisdiction but was subsequently released) on the grounds that his death squads and torture units had also attacked Spanish citizens. From the legal standpoint of the Spanish courts, what Pinochet did or ordered done to Chileans was immaterial - but woe be him if he touched a single Spaniard. Interestingly, most subsequent dictators have not fully wised up to this.
  • In 1984, Daniel Kayton Boro was arrested in California after manipulating a hotel clerk named Mariana De Bella into having sex with him by pretending to be a doctor and telling her that she suffered from a life-threatening infection that could only be cured if he administered a vaccine by having sex with her. Unfortunately California had no laws against rape by deception in 1984 so Boro was acquitted of rape. However, he had also got De Bella to give him $1000 for administering the vaccine, meaning he could be convicted of theft. And the icing on the cake: after being released from prison, Boro tried the same thing again in 1987 and was arrested once again. Except this time he was convicted. This was because by 1987 California had outlawed rape by fraud because of the publicity generated by Boro's previous arrest.
  • Nathaniel Bar-Jonah was suspected of abducting, raping, and murdering Zachary Ramsey but Ramsey's body was never found and his mother refused to believe he was dead and threatened to testify in Bar-Jonah's defense so the case never made it to trial. While the police could do nothing about Ramsey's disappearance, they had found the DNA of several other children while searching Bar-Jonah's house and followed up on this, discovering that two of the samples came from a couple of children who used to live near him and who were willing to testify Bar-Jonah had sexually abused them. The end result was that Bar-Jonah received a 130-year sentence.
  • Canadian gangster Peter Gill got acquitted of two counts of murder by having sex with juror Gillian Guess. When the police found out about their relationship, Gill was convicted of obstruction of justice, as was Guess after it was found that there was no specific law against her actions.
  • Home improvement icon Martha Stewart was indicted on several charges of insider trading after illegally selling stock based on an inside tip; she was ultimately convicted and jailed not for the insider trading, but for obstruction and false statements made during the investigation.
  • Holocaust perpetrator Erich Rajakowitsch, when prosecuted in 1965, could not be convicted of murder due to a lack of evidence. Instead, prosecutors charged him with malicious endangerment of human life for having ordered the deportation of 83 Jews to a concentration camp, which eventually resulted in his conviction.
  • In 1866 the four members of the Burgess-Kelly Gangnote  were arrested for the disappearance of four wealthy businessmen along the Maungatapu track in New Zealand. One of the four, Joseph Sullivan, confessed that the gang had robbed and murdered the men and another victim named James Battle, leading police to the bodies and agreeing to testify against the others in return for being pardoned. Once his accomplices had been convicted, police charged Sullivan with James Battle's murder on the grounds that the immunity agreement only covered the businessman's murders and Sullivan was found guilty, serving seven years of a life sentence before being deported from New Zealand.
  • French Nazi collaborator Paul Touvier, who had led the collaborationist police in Lyon during the occupation, fled treason charges after the war and didn't resurface until 1966, by which time the statute of limitations had run out. Outraged, the son of a Jew killed on Touvier's orders brought a private prosecution against him in 1973 for crimes against humanity, an offence with no statute of limitations, for his involvement in the murders of French Jews. Touvier fled again but was eventually captured in 1989 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • Ilse Koch, the so-called "Bitch of Buchenwald" who had subjected concentration camp prisoners to sadistic cruelty and was accused of making lampshades from the skin of tattooed prisoners, had her life sentence commuted to four years by General Lucius C. Clay even though he was aware of her cruelties because he didn't believe the specific accusations for which she was tried. A Senate committee concluded that he was wrong to commute the sentence but that there was nothing they could do about it; nothing, that is, except hand her over to the West German government to be prosecuted for crimes against Germans imprisoned at Buchenwald, which had not been covered at her original trial. A German court sentenced her to life imprisonment and she committed suicide while serving her sentence.
  • In 1987 four members of the Kunz family were shot dead at their home and a fifth, Helen Kunz, was found dead in a nearby swamp nine months later. The main suspect, Christopher Jacobs, was put on trial but was found not guilty, likely because of the large amount of sensationalist rumours surrounding the family that convinced the public there was more to the case. When Jacobs later confessed to the murders he was protected by double jeopardy. Or so he thought. However, because Helen Kunz had been taken away from the house before she died, prosecutors were able to indict him for kidnapping her, with charges being filed mere hours before the statute of limitations on kidnapping would have run out. Jacobs was convicted of kidnapping Helen Kunz and jailed for 31 years.
  • In 1990, Joe Son, a former actor famous for a bit role in AustinPowers and a brief martial artist career, abducted and raped a Californian woman (who was given the pseudonym of "Victoria" in a 48 Hours episode) with an accomplice. The case went unsolved until 2008, when Son was required to give his DNA in an unrelated vandalism charge. The DNA was linked to Victoria's abduction, but California's stature of limitations for rape had expired by then. Thus Son was simply charged with torture by the prosecution, and he was given a 7 years to life sentence. His sentence escalated to 34 years to life when Son killed his cellmate a month after his conviction.