Court Rules Medical Malpractice in Treating a Wound is not a Valid Defense in a Florida Murder Case

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.

Here, the medical examiner testified that the victim’s cause of death was a gunshot wound in the abdomen and that the victim would have died if he did not receive medical attention. Thus, the court found that the trial court was within its discretion in barring the defendant’s attorney from questioning the medical examiner regarding intervening causes of death, as such questioning was not relevant to a legally cognizable defense.

Meet with a Trusted Sarasota Violent Crime Defense Attorney About the Charges You Face

If you live in Sarasota and are charged with second-degree murder or any other violent crime it is essential to your rights and liberties to retain a trusted Sarasota violent crime defense attorney to set forth strong defenses on your behalf. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a Sarasota violent crimes defense attorney with the skills and experience needed to help you pursue the best legal result possible under the unique facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 941-462-1789 or via the form online to schedule a free and confidential meeting regarding the charges you face.



Contact Information