merger doctrine

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In criminal law, if a defendant commits a single act that simultaneously fulfills the definition of two separate offenses, merger will occur. This means that the lesser of the two offenses will drop out, and the defendant will only be charged with the greater offense. This prevents double jeopardy problems from arising.

See also: Merger and Trust merger (for other uses of the term).

[Last updated in October of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]