By Casey Nolen
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The Justice Department is reviewing evidence to determine whether George Zimmerman should face federal criminal charges.
The first question many people have is, "Wouldn't this be double jeopardy?" Professor Susan McGraugh with the Saint Louis University School of Law says no. The state and federal government are considered two separate, sovereign entities and a person can face charges for the same crime in both courts of law.
The Department of Justice has an ongoing investigation in this case, going back at least a year.
McGraugh says the feds could go a couple of different directions if they were to file charges against Zimmerman. They could file regular criminal charges if they feel something was wrong with the first trial, or if new evidence comes to light. She says both of those are unlikely.
Or, they could file charges alleging civil rights violations, meaning they would have to prove that race was a factor in the commission of a crime. That's something a lot people nationally are calling for, and even though race was not central to the case made during the state trial, McGraugh says it's not out of the question.
"It depends how long this outcry last, how much pressure they're under, whether politically they think this is a good move for them to bring the case," said McGraugh. "They'll consider the likelihood of winning because it's very expensive to prosecute a case. And they certainly don't want to spend a lot of time and effort on a case that can't be won."