In Florida, the State will often charge a person with a crime via an information. The information must set forth details regarding the alleged offense, including the date when it was committed. If the information contains inaccurate details, the State may be granted leave to amend it, as discussed in a recent battery case. If you are faced with charges of battery or another violent crime, it is advisable to speak with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense lawyer to determine your rights.
Procedural Setting of the Case
It is alleged that the State of Florida appealed an order dismissing its information charging the defendant with battery. The original information alleged that the defendant committed a battery on February 7, 2020, in Tampa during a Super Bowl tailgating party. However, during trial, the State recognized an error in the date and sought to amend the information to reflect the correct date of the alleged offense as February 7, 2021. The defendant opposed the amendment, asserting that the defense would be prejudiced because it had prepared for trial based on the incorrect date. The trial court denied the State’s request to amend and, instead, granted the defendant’s oral motion to dismiss. A written order of dismissal was subsequently entered.
Correcting Incorrect Dates on Criminal Information
On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court emphasized that the State is generally permitted to amend an information during trial, unless there is a showing of prejudice to the substantial rights of the defendant. Technical defects that do not affect the substantial rights of the parties are typically excused. The court stated that Florida courts have historically considered variances between the alleged time of the offense and the time proved at trial as non-fatal.
The court noted that the information incorrectly alleged the offense date as February 7, 2020, instead of the correct date, February 7, 2021. Despite this variance, the court highlighted that there was no prejudice to the defendant if he was on notice of the correct date. In this case, the police report, which served as the basis for the information, clearly indicated that the offense occurred during a Super Bowl tailgating party in Tampa. The State argued that the Super Bowl was held on February 7, 2021, in Tampa, which was consistent with the descriptive information in the police report. The court found it implausible that the defendant had no notice of the correct date and was misled by the incorrect year.
The court also observed that defense counsel was aware of the incorrect date before trial, as indicated by statements made during trial. The court concluded that the trial court erred in rejecting the State’s request to amend and in granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The dismissal was reversed, and the case was remanded.
Confer with a Dedicated Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
The courts often impose significant penalties on people convicted of violent crimes, especially if they have prior convictions. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is important to confer with an attorney about your potential defenses. The dedicated St. Petersburg violent crime defense lawyers of Hanlon Law have ample experience helping people protect their liberties in criminal matters, and if you hire us, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can use our online form or call us at 727-897-5413 to schedule a conference.