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.