If you are charged with a violent crime there are a variety of defenses you can set forth to try to avoid a conviction, including self-defense and mistake. A Florida appellate court recently held, however, that evidence of medical malpractice is not a valid defense to a second-degree murder charge, in a case in which the victim died from a gunshot wound. If you are charged with a violent crime in Sarasota it is critical to engage a knowledgeable Sarasota violent crime defense attorney to determine what defenses to set forth to give you a strong chance of a favorable result.
Facts Regarding the Alleged Crime and Medical Treatment
Allegedly, the defendant was walking down the street when the victim approached him in a car and rolled down the window. The defendant argued with the victim, and then allegedly punched and shot the victim. The victim drove to a nearby gas station where he collapsed. The victim was transported to a hospital where he ultimately died from his injuries. The defendant was charged with second-degree murder. At the trial, the defendant sought to cross-examine the medical examiner regarding possible intervening causes of the victim’s death, including medical malpractice, but the court prohibited the line of questioning. The jury found the defendant guilty, after which the defendant appealed.
Florida Standard for Admitting Evidence in Criminal Trials
On appeal, the defendant argued the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to question the medical examiner regarding medical malpractice. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, stating that under Florida law, a defendant cannot escape a penalty for an act that causes a victim’s death by arguing the death could have been prevented by certain medical treatment. Rather, if the wound inflicted by the defendant is life-threatening, evidence of improper medical treatment or the harm caused by such treatment will not help the defendant avoid a conviction. In other words, when a defendant fatally wounds a victim, regardless of whether the medical care rendered to treat the wound is malpractice or merely constitutes sub-optimal medical care, the care will not constitute a superseding or intervening cause of the victim’s death.
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