Clean-Slate Rule Law and Legal Definition

Clean slate rule is a principle of criminal procedure that where a defendant succeeds in overturning his/her conviction, there is no double jeopardy bar to retrial. Double jeopardy refers to a person being tried again for the same offense after being acquitted. Double jeopardy is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A defendant who successfully challenges his/her conviction may be retried by a court of competent jurisdiction, the rationale being that the defendant wiped the slate clean and the parties may start anew. By this rule not only is the right of the defendant to an error-free trial protected but the societal interest that the guilty should be punished is preserved.

The clean slate rule is inapplicable, however, when the ground for the reversal was that the evidence was insufficient to convict. [Palmer v. Clarke, 408 F.3d 423, 443 (8th Cir. Neb. 2005)]