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Case against Robert Durst escalates as grand jury files charges

Some of our Atlanta readers may be following the case of Robert Durst, the wealthy real estate heir whose family operates the World Trade Center tower in New York. If you're among those following the case, then you too have probably realized the gravity of the case and what is at stake for Durst.

As you may know, he is facing allegations in three jurisdictions that may involve both state and federal courts. Though he's been dealing with these criminal allegations for months, his situation became more precarious recently when a federal grand jury charged him with illegal possession of a handgun, which is a charge that can carry with it a chance of spending more than a decade in prison.

The reason Durst could face such steep sentencing is because of prior felonies that make him ineligible to possess a firearm anywhere in the United States. But as those who have been following the case know, this isn't the only criminal allegation against him that could make prosecution challenging. Durst has also been charged with the 2000 murder of a 55-year-old woman. In this case, he also faces steep consequences if he is found guilty.

Because this case spans multiple jurisdictions and involves similar charges, there is a small concern over how each jurisdiction words their laws. That's because there is a possibility for double jeopardy, which is not allowed in any state. Prosecutors will need to make sure that they too are in compliance with the law and are not forcing Durst to stand trial for the same crime twice. If they do this, prosecutors will be violating his civil rights, which is another challenge Durst's lawyers will also have to contend with.

Source: ABC News, "Robert Durst Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Weapon Charge," Kevin McGill and Janet McConnaughey, April 10, 2015

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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