Florida Court Discusses Postconviction Relief Due to Newly Discovered Evidence

Criminal defendants will typically try to obtain any evidence that they can offer in their defense prior to proceeding to trial. Despite their best efforts, however, they may not be able to unearth all evidence in their favor until after their conviction. Fortunately, the law permits people convicted of criminal offenses to seek postconviction relief if they discover new evidence after the completion of their trial. Recently, a Florida court discussed postconviction claims based on new evidence in a case in which the defendant was convicted of battery. If you are charged with battery or another violent offense, it is smart to meet with a Tampa violent crime defense lawyer to discuss your potential defenses.

Factual Background

It is reported that in 2007, the defendant was convicted of battery, which was a misdemeanor, and aggravated battery causing significant bodily harm using a weapon, which was a felony. As he was a prison releasee reoffender, he was sentenced to thirty years in prison for the felony offense. In 2022, he filed a motion for postconviction relief based on newly discovered evidence. The court summarily denied his motion, after which he appealed.

Postconviction Relief Due to Newly Discovered Evidence

On appeal, the court found that the court erred in denying the defendant’s motion without considering the defendant’s evidence. As such, it reversed the underlying ruling and remanded the matter to the lower court for an evidentiary hearing. The court explained that it reviewed summary denials of claims for postconviction relief de novo.

To prevail on a claim for postconviction relief based on newly discovered evidence, a defendant must show both that neither they nor their attorney knew of the evidence at the time of trial or could have discovered it by exercising due diligence and that the evidence is of a character that would likely produce an acquittal on retrial. Newly found evidence will meet the second prong of the test if it weakens the State’s case against the defendant so as to create a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.

In the subject case, the defendant submitted a sworn affidavit from a witness that supported the defense he asserted at trial. While there were questions regarding the credibility of the affidavit, the lower court improperly weighed the evidentiary conflicts between the affidavit and the testimony offered at trial without the benefit of an evidentiary hearing, however. Thus, the court reversed the order denying the defendant’s claim.

Talk to an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

People convicted of violent crimes may be sentenced to years in prison, but in many cases, there are defenses a person accused of a violent offense can assert to avoid a conviction. If you are accused of committing a crime of violence, it is prudent to talk to an attorney regarding your rights as soon as possible. The experienced Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law are well-versed in what it takes to obtain good results in criminal matters, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a conference.

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