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Articles Posted in Attempted Murder

A person charged with a crime in Florida has certain rights that the State is not permitted to violate in order to obtain a conviction. For example, if a person is charged with more than one crime the state is limited as to whether evidence of the first crime can be introduced at trial for the second crime or whether the trials for each crime can be consolidated. A Florida appellate court recently discussed the standards for permitting a court to consolidate criminal trials and for introducing collateral crime evidence, in a case in which the defendant was charged with two separate crimes of solicitation to commit murder. If you are a Clearwater resident currently charged with more than one count of solicitation to commit homicide or any other homicide crime it is crucial to your defense to retain a seasoned Clearwater homicide defense attorney to fight to preclude any evidence the state should not be permitted to introduce at your trial.

The Defendant’s Alleged Crimes

Allegedly, the defendant was in jail awaiting trial for the crime of lewd and lascivious molestation of his former girlfriend’s daughter. He reportedly approached two other inmates on separate occasions to ask them to arrange the murders of three witnesses who were to testify on behalf of the State at the trial. The defendant was subsequently charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder. Each solicitation crime was charged by a separate information but the cases were consolidated for trial. During the trial for the solicitation crimes, the inmates the defendant approached both testified that the defendant asked them to arrange the murders of witnesses in his upcoming molestation trial. Additionally, the defendant’s former girlfriend and the detective who investigated the molestation crime testified regarding the alleged molestation. The defendant was convicted on both solicitation charges, after which he appealed, arguing the court erred in consolidating the two cases and in admitting evidence of collateral crimes.

Consolidation of Offenses

In order to consolidate separate criminal cases for trial, the crimes must be significantly linked in some way. In other words, the State must be able to prove that some meaningful relationship exists between the crimes. In the subject case, the defendant argued that because there was no interrupted sequence between his alleged crimes, the crimes did not have a meaningful relationship. The court rejected this argument, stating that the meaningful relationship between the crimes was that they were part of a single effort to thwart the people who would testify against the defendant. Thus, the court found that the trial court did not err in permitting the consolidation.

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If you are charged with a crime, the prosecution has the burden of proving that you committed all the elements of the crime in order to convict you of that crime. Some crimes involve an element that requires a specific mental state which depends on what a defendant was intending to do and what he or she knew. For example, the law treats someone differently if they accidentally kill someone versus if they intentionally kill someone, with the latter being punished more harshly. What a defendant does or does not know, and the intentions of the defendant, can be proven by circumstantial evidence. A skilled Florida murder defense attorney may use the defense that a defendant did not have the requisite mental state to commit the crime.

Mens Rea

Mens rea is a latin term which means “guilty mind.” Proving the mens rea, or mental state, of a defendant is a burden for the prosecution if a specific mental state is part of the crime. One of the mental states that may need to be proven is “recklessness.” Recklessness goes beyond general carelessness or negligence. (Negligence can land you in court, but only civil court, not criminal.) Recklessness goes beyond just negligence, and entails doing something that anyone should know is extremely dangerous. For example, leaving a loaded gun out somewhere that children have access to or another equally unreasonably dangerous scenario.

If a jury is going to be expected to decide on whether a person is guilty or innocent in a Florida criminal case, it first has to first be properly instructed on the criminal offense with which the person is charged. A recent decision out of Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal in an attempted murder case is a good example of how critical jury instructions are in a criminal case.Defendant was 17 years old when he was charged with the attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, attempted robbery with a firearm, and aggravated assault with a firearm. Prosecutors alleged that Defendant was attempting to commit an armed robbery at an apartment complex when an officer patrolling the area noticed. Defendant, according to the prosecutors, fired his gun at the officer (but missed) when the officer intervened. He was later apprehended at a nearby convenience store.

He argued mistaken identity, claiming that he was not the person who committed the crimes. Defendant said he was visiting friends at the apartment complex when he got into an argument over a basketball game. He said he was surprised when the cops approached him at the convenience store. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 33 years in prison.

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