SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you’ve ever wondered if anyone is ever charged with double jeopardy (prosecuted twice for the same crime), the New Mexico Supreme Court has an answer: Yes. In a ruling announced Thursday, the state’s highest court says Franklin Begaye from San Juan County was improperly charged twice for essentially the same crime.

Begaye was previously sentenced to 16 years in prison for breaking and entering, as well as burglary, of a Farmington business in 2017. But now, the Supreme Court has decided that the breaking and entering charge was part of the burglary, not a separate issue.

So, Begaye shouldn’t have been prosecuted for both, the court decided. And now he will be resentenced.

“We conclude that Defendant’s right to be free from double jeopardy was violated when he was
convicted for both breaking and entering and non-residential burglary because the underlying
conduct was unitary,” the unanimous opinion written by Justice Julie J. Vargas says. “And, under the State’s theory, the burglary offense subsumed the breaking and entering offense.”

The Supreme Court, after reviewing the case, decided that prosecutors used the same evidence to support both Begaye’s breaking and entering as well as his burglary charge, according to a press release from the courts. This new decision reversed the previous ruling by the state Court of Appeals, which had found that the case didn’t violate double jeopardy rules.

Now that the Supreme Court has made their ruling, Begaye will be resentenced in district court. Given the original charges, it’s possible that years will be knocked off of his original sentence.