Typically, when a person faces numerous charges arising out of a single incident, they will be tried for all of the offenses in one trial. In some instances, though, a defendant may be able to successfully demonstrate that certain charges should be severed, as a trial on all charges at once would be prejudicial. In a recent ruling, a Florida court discussed what evidence a defendant must offer to show severance is warranted in a case in which the defendant was found guilty of possessing a firearm as a violent career criminal. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is advisable to speak to a Sarasota weapons crime defense attorney as soon as possible.
Factual and Procedural Background
It is reported that the defendant had an altercation with the victim, who was his girlfriend, at the victim’s house. The altercation became physical, and the defendant brandished a gun and fired multiple shots into the air. He was subsequently charged with aggravated assault, burglary with battery, assault, and possession of a firearm as a violent career criminal.
Allegedly, the defendant moved to sever the gun possession charge from the other offenses, arguing that severance was necessary for a fair trial. The court denied his motion but bifurcated the hearing; during the first phase, the jury found that the defendant possessed a firearm, and during the second, it found that he qualified as a violent career criminal. The defendant was sentenced to life in prison, and he appealed.