Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Petite Policy Definition:

A policy of the US Justice Department that following a state prosecution there should be no federal prosecution for the same transaction in the absence of compelling federal interests.

Related Terms: Double Jeopardy, Fifth Amendment

In US v Barrett, Justice Mary Briscoe of the United States Court of Appeals wrote:

"The Justice Department's Petite policy, so named after the decision in Petite v. United States (recognizing the policy), provides that following a state prosecution there should be no federal prosecution for the same transaction in the absence of compelling federal interests. It was adopted by the Department of Justice following the Supreme Court's decision in Bartkus, in which the Court held that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar a state from prosecuting and convicting a defendant who previously has been tried for the same acts in federal court. The policy has regularly appeared in the United States Attorneys' Manual since its adoption by the Department....

"[T]he Petite policy is merely a housekeeping provision of the Department that, at most, serves as a guide for the use of the Attorney General and the United States Attorneys in the field, and thus does not confer any enforceable rights upon criminal defendants. That the Department of Justice has developed an internal protocol for exercising discretion and channelling prosecutorial resources does not provide license for courts to police compliance with that protocol, and it is well established that the Petite policy and other internal prosecutorial protocols do not vest defendants with any personal rights. Thus, it is clear that the district court did not err in refusing to dismiss the superseding indictment on the basis of an alleged violation of the Petite policy."

Justice Arthur Spatt of the United States District Court, in US v Gruttadauria also held that the policy is just that; not law but a prosecution policy which, of course, is not binding upon a court of law.

"The Petite policy is an internal statement by the United States Attorney General setting forth guidelines for federal prosecutors regarding dual and successive federal prosecutions.... It is well-settled that the Petite policy affords defendants no substantive rights. It is merely an internal guideline for exercise of prosecutorial discretion, not subject to judicial review."

REFERENCES:

Categories & Topics:


Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!