Articles Posted in Murder

In the United States, criminal defendants do have the right to defend themselves. However, a United State Supreme Court case called Faretta clarified that a defendant’s waiver of counsel is only valid as long as it is knowingly and intelligently made. Essentially, a defendant needs to be competent enough to understand the ramifications of their actions. While defendants do have the right to represent themselves, it is generally a bad idea. That’s why defendants should always contact a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as they are arrested.

General Competency

Whether a defendant is represented by counsel or representing themselves, they need to be competent in order to stand trial. This is different than an insanity defense. Competency refers to the defendant’s mental state at trial. They need to be competent enough to understand the nature of the proceedings against them and meaningfully assist in their own defense.

In a case heard by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, the defendant represented himself at trial after dismissing two different attorneys. Before the trial began, the defendant was determined to be incompetent to stand trial. However, after a period of hospitalization without medication, he was deemed competent enough to stand trial. At several points throughout the trial the court did a Faretta inquiry and each time the defendant was found competent to stand trial and represent himself.

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As representatives of the State, prosecutors have special responsibilities that the defense does not have. Prosecutors are supposed to be on the side of justice, so they should look at the evidence with that goal in mind. If they find evidence that would tend to show that the defendant is innocent, they have a responsibility to share that evidence. Specifically, a Supreme Court case called Brady requires that the prosecution must turn over any evidence to the defense that meets certain criteria. If they do not do this, a conviction may be reversed. There are a number of different ways that a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney may be able to get your conviction overturned. Of course, individual results will depend on the facts of your case.Brady Violations

There are certain requirements that need to be met in order for a court to find that a Brady violation has occurred. The burden is on the defendant to show that a Brady violation has taken place. The first thing the defense needs to prove is that the evidence either impeached the testimony of a prosecution witness or was exculpatory. They also need to prove that the State either willfully or inadvertently withheld that evidence from the defense. Finally, the defendant needs to show that the evidence was material and that their lack of access to the evidence hurt their case.

The Florida Supreme Court has clarified some other aspects that are necessary for a Brady violation. One of the important aspects that they have clarified is that the defense must not have known about the existence of the evidence at the time of the trial. The reasoning behind this is that if the defense knew about the evidence, it wasn’t withheld.

The rule against hearsay essentially bans a person from testifying in court about what another person said outside of court if the testimony is meant to prove that the out-of-court statement is true. As Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal recently pointed out in a murder case, however, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. That includes certain statements made by a person shortly before he or she dies.Defendant was charged with first degree murder and an assortment of related criminal offenses, stemming from the killing of a Florida man during what prosecutors described as a drug deal gone wrong. Defendant was visiting Miami from New York when he and a friend bought $5 worth of marijuana from M., according to the court. M. then arranged for Defendant to buy $1,500 in cocaine and marijuana from V., the court said. Defendant allegedly coaxed M. to his hotel room, where he and his associate claimed to be police officers, threatened M. with a gun, beat him, and forced M. to set up a meeting with V..

V. eventually met with Defendant and got in the back of his car. Defendant’s associate showed V. a police ID card. V. tried to get out of the car when he realized Defendant didn’t have money for the drugs he said he wanted to buy. A struggle ensued, during which Defendant allegedly shot V. three times as V. was getting out of the car. Defendant and his associate drove off with M. still in the back of the car. A police officer who arrived on the scene asked V. who shot him. V. told the officer that it was “a black man with dreads.” He died shortly after making the statement.

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Jury instructions are a key part of any criminal trial in Florida. The way that a judge instructs the jury about the evidence and the legal requirements necessary to return a conviction can make or break a Florida homicide or other criminal case. As a recent case out of the Florida Supreme Court shows, judges are also required to inform the jury if there are lesser offenses than those charged of which the person charged could be convicted instead.A defendant was charged with attempted second-degree murder, possession of a firearm, and other crimes stemming from an incident in Duval County in which she allegedly shot a woman during a drug transaction gone awry. The victim testified at trial that her cousin got into a verbal argument with the defendant during a marijuana sale. She said the defendant pulled the gun after the argument escalated. The victim punched the defendant in the face when she saw the gun. The victim then raised her hands to protect her face when the defendant pointed it at her. The defendant fired the gun, wounding the woman in the hand and neck. The victim and two other witnesses said the victim was standing about 10 feet away from the defendant and was not moving toward her at the time of the shooting.

The defendant told the court that she had the gun at her side and was moving away from the victim after the woman punched the defendant in the face. She said she raised and fired the weapon in self-defense, concerned that she would have been jumped if she had not done so. The judge in the case explained the legal elements of second-degree murder, including the lesser offenses of aggravated battery and aggravated assault. The judge did not, however, inform the jury that the defendant could also be convicted on the lesser offense of attempted manslaughter. She was convicted of attempted second-degree murder and other offenses related to the gun and drugs.

The Florida Supreme Court reversed the attempted murder conviction on appeal. The court said the judge erred by failing to tell the jury that the defendant could have been convicted of attempted manslaughter instead of attempted murder.

The right to legal representation is a central part of any criminal defense. Judges take this right very seriously, as a recent decision in a murder case from Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal shows.The defendant’s girlfriend was found dead in her home in Bradenton in June 2012. When they went looking for the defendant, the cops found that he had been involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment at Manatee Memorial Hospital earlier the same day. He had been acting erratically while visiting his parents. He was nervous, pacing, and unable to relax or slow down, according to the court. His mother later told police that he had previously suffered from similar mental health problems. His mother was informed by hospital staff that his girlfriend had been found dead when the mother tried to visit him in the hospital later the same day. She was barred from seeing her son until the cops arrived.

The mother obtained a lawyer – a friend of a fellow church member – to represent her son before the police came to the hospital. Although the lawyer informed hospital staff that he was representing the defendant and did not want the defendant talking to police alone, he too was barred from seeing him. The lawyer and the parents left the facility late in the evening with plans to return the next day.

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If you are charged with a crime in Florida, you have the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. A recent murder case in Miami tested the bounds of fairness and prejudice when the Third District Court of Appeal was asked to decide whether a jury should be able to see a video of a person confessing to a crime while wearing a prison uniform and handcuffs.The defendant was charged with a 2002 murder during a botched robbery in Miami. The case remained unresolved for some 10 years before police had a breakthrough using fingerprint tracing technology. They eventually matched prints from the crime scene to another man by using a national database. This other man implicated the defendant, and the son of the person killed in the robbery picked the defendant out of a photo lineup. The cops tracked the defendant down to a prison in Pennsylvania, where he was serving time on unrelated charges. He agreed to do a video interview and waived his rights to an attorney. He confessed to committing the robbery, but he said it was the other man who pulled the trigger.

The defendant was eventually charged with first-degree murder. Before the trial began, he asked the judge to allow the jury only to hear an audio version of his prison interview with the police. He argued that he would be unfairly prejudiced if the jury saw him giving the interview in handcuffs and prison garb. The judge disagreed. The defendant was convicted, based on the confession, the victim’s son’s identification, and DNA evidence taken from a baseball cap left at the crime scene.

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Witness testimony can make or break a criminal case, whether it’s jay walking or manslaughter. In a recent case out of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal, the court looked at a supposed jailhouse confession that seemed to exonerate a man who had already been convicted of murder.The defendant was convicted for his alleged role in the killing of another man in Polk County. The victim was staying with his girlfriend and her family in November 2012 when he disappeared. The victim, who left the home after an argument with his girlfriend, was found dead in a nearby orange grove. He had a headshot wound in the back of the head, but police officers did not find a gun and weren’t able to recover any fingerprints from the site.

The defendant was later charged with the murder. Prosecutors alleged that he killed the victim with the help of the brother of the victim’s girlfriend. A friend of the victim, who was involved in a marijuana dealing operation with him, testified that the defendant told him that the defendant and the brother committed the murder.

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