Court Discusses Reviewing a Denial of Acquittal Under Florida Law

In order to obtain a conviction in a criminal case, the State must present evidence sufficient to establish that the defendant committed each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the State’s case is severely lacking in competent evidence, a defendant may be able to obtain an acquittal, and if an acquittal is unjustly denied, it may constitute grounds for a reversal of a guilty verdict. In a recent Florida ruling, a court explained the grounds for granting an appeal in a case in which a defendant who was charged with numerous theft crimes filed a motion for judgment of acquittal that was denied. If you are charged with theft crimes, you may be able to avoid a conviction, and you should talk to a seasoned Clearwater criminal defense attorney about your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with burglary, robbery, and other offenses. During the trial, the State presented evidence that the defendant occasionally worked for the victim, who was found bound and beaten in his home. The State also showed footage of the defendant driving the victim’s forklift around town, and the victim’s son testified that his father did not let anyone borrow the forklift. Finally, a photograph taken by the defendant showed that he was on the victim’s property on the day the crimes occurred. At the close of the State’s case, the defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal. His motion was denied, and he was convicted as charged, after which he appealed.

Reviewing a Denial of Acquittal Under Florida Law

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal because the State failed to present sufficient evidence that he committed the charged offenses. The court explained that appellate courts review a trial court’s denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal de novo to determine whether the evidence is adequate to sustain a conviction. Further, the court explained that Florida courts recently modified their standard for reviewing evidence.

Under the new standard all cases in which the sufficiency of the evidence is assessed, courts must determine whether the State presented evidence that is substantial and adequate to support the verdict. The evidence must be viewed in a light most favorable to the State, and the court must determine whether a rational trier of fact could have found that the evidence demonstrated the elements of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. In the subject case, the court found that the circumstantial evidence substantially supported the verdict rendered by the jury. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Capable Criminal Defense Attorney in Clearwater

A conviction for a theft crime can result in significant and life-altering penalties. If you are charged with burglary, robbery, or a related offense, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney to discuss your potential defenses. Attorney William Hanlon is a capable theft defense attorney who takes pride in helping people fight to protect their rights, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Hanlon via the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to schedule a meeting.

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