Anyone charged with a crime in Florida generally has the right to have the case decided by a jury. Closing arguments are an essential part of any jury trial. They allow lawyers for both sides one last opportunity to summarize the case for the people tasked with determining guilt or innocence. As Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal recently pointed out, however, there are some things that a prosecutor can’t say during that summary.
A defendant was charged with three crimes, including armed burglary of a dwelling. Prosecutors alleged at trial that he was fleeing from police when he entered into an unidentified home. Florida law defines burglary of a dwelling as the entering of a dwelling without an invitation and with the intent to commit a crime inside.
During closing arguments, a prosecutor told the jury that it was required to find the defendant guilty of the charge, even if they believed his version of the events. That’s because, according to the prosecutor, the defendant was committing the crime of resisting a police officer when he entered the dwelling. The prosecutor also said that the defendant’s demeanor when he testified clearly showed that he was guilty.