Florida Court Discusses Setting Aside a Conviction Due to New Evidence 

While a person charged with a crime does not have to offer evidence in their defense at trial, it would be prudent to introduce any information that may exonerate them. Generally, all evidence must be exchanged prior to trial, and if a party fails to introduce evidence, they waive the right to do so. There are exceptions, however, such as when exculpatory evidence is not discovered until a later date. Recently, a Florida court explained when a conviction should be set aside due to newly discovered evidence in a murder case in which it ultimately denied the defendant’s request for relief. If you are accused of murder, it is in your best interest to talk to a  St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to evaluate your possible defenses. 

Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping and sentenced to 100 years in prison and death. He filed a postconviction motion, resulting in the vacation of his death sentence and the ordering of a new penalty phase. The defendant then filed a second motion, claiming newly discovered evidence based on an alleged jailhouse confession. An evidentiary hearing was conducted, during which the defendant presented testimony from witnesses, including the individual to whom the alleged confession was made.

Allegedly, the court denied the defendant’s motion for relief, concluding that the evidence presented was insufficient to support the claim of a jailhouse confession and would likely be inadmissible under the Florida Rules of Evidence. Consequently, the defendant appealed the court’s decision. 

Setting Aside a Conviction Due to Newly Discovered Evidence 

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In its opinion, it explained that to set aside a conviction based on newly discovered evidence, two requirements must be met: (1) the evidence must not have been known at the time of trial and could not have been discovered with due diligence, and (2) the newly discovered evidence must be of such nature that it would probably result in an acquittal on retrial by weakening the case against the defendant to raise a reasonable doubt about their guilt.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant satisfied the first requirement, as the evidence in question was not known at the time of trial. Since the court ultimately determined that the alleged confession did not occur, however, it held that the defendant failed to meet the second requirement. Thus, the court upheld the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Dedicated Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Murder and other violent offenses carry substantial punishments, including, in some cases, the death penalty. If you are charged with murder or another violent crime, it is critical to talk to an attorney about what strategies you can employ to protect your interests. The dedicated St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law are well-equipped to help people charged with violent crimes seek favorable outcomes, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us to set up a meeting by calling us at 727-897-5413 or using our online form.

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