Florida Court Discusses Grounds for Acquittal

If you are charged with a crime, the State is required to produce competent evidence of each element of the crime to support a conviction. In cases where the State fails to produce any evidence that a crime was committed, it is grounds for an acquittal. In a recent case, a Florida appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in denying the defendant’s motion for judgement on acquittal for a manslaughter charge, finding the State failed to produce evidence of any of the elements of the crime. If you are a St. Petersburg resident charged with manslaughter or any other violent crime, it is wise to speak with a capable St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney regarding the facts of your case and what evidence the State may introduce against you.

Factual Scenario Regarding the Alleged Crimes

Reportedly, the victim was found bleeding behind a bus station, and later died from his injuries. A woman who interacted with the victim on the night of his death responded to a police inquiry for information. She stated that she was at the bus station looking for drugs, when she was introduced to the victim by a drug dealer. The victim purchased drugs for the woman, based upon an agreement that she would have sex with the victim. The victim allegedly grabbed the woman, which she reported to the drug dealer and the defendant.

It is alleged that the drug dealer and the defendant then confronted the victim. The defendant gave the police two statements, and in both statements, he reported the victim and the drug dealer were involved in an altercation, when the drug dealer attacked the victim with a knife. The defendant denied stabbing the victim. The defendant was charged as a principal to manslaughter. During the trial, defense counsel moved for an acquittal. The court denied the motion and the defendant was convicted, after which he appealed.

Grounds for Acquittal

In Florida, if a defendant moves for an acquittal the court must determine whether there is substantial and competent evidence that would support a conviction. The State bears the burden of proving each element of the offense through the evidence produced. In filing a motion for a judgment of acquittal, the defendant admits the facts introduced and the conclusions that can be drawn from those facts, but argues that the State has nonetheless failed to adduce evidence that shows the defendant committed the crime alleged beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the subject case, to convict the defendant as a principal to manslaughter, the State was required to show that the defendant consciously intended for the crime to be committed and that the defendant took an affirmative act to help another person commit the crime. Here, the court found that the State failed to produce evidence sufficient to prove either element of the crime. Specifically, there was no evidence that either the defendant or the drug dealer intended to commit a crime or that the defendant took any acts towards committing any crime. As such, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction and ordered that the judgment of acquittal be entered.

Speak with a Skillful St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney

If you reside in St. Petersburg and are charged with manslaughter or any other violent crime, you should speak with a skillful St. Petersburg defense attorney regarding the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the defenses available to the charges you face.  William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney with the knowledge and experience needed to help you obtain a favorable result under the circumstances. You can reach Mr. Hanlon via telephone at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to set up a meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Manslaughter Conviction Upheld in Florida After Court Refuses to Extend “Stand Your Ground” Law Retroactively, August 22, 2018, St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Lawyer Blog

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