In many criminal matters, the State must rely on circumstantial evidence to obtain a conviction, such as eyewitness testimony. Similarly, criminal defendants often ask witnesses to testify to substantiate their defenses. Thus, the inability to present a witness can be greatly prejudicial to a defendant and may result in an unjust conviction. A defendant who wishes to delay a trial or verdict to permit an additional witness to testify must meet a high burden of proof; however, and such requests are not often granted. Recently, a Florida court discussed what a defendant seeking a continuance to present an additional witness must prove for the request to be granted in a case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous violent crimes. If you are charged with violent offenses, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Sarasota violent crime defense attorney regarding your rights.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple violent crimes, including first-degree murder and armed robbery. During his trial, he filed a motion for a continuance so that he could present an additional witness. The court denied his motion, and he was convicted as charged. He subsequently appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a continuance. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling and the jury’s verdict.
Motions for Continuances to Present Additional Witnesses
After reviewing the evidence of record, the court noted that the defendant preserved the issue for appeal but found that his appeal lacked merit. The court explained that a denial of a motion for a continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. In the subject case, the defendant’s attorney requested the continuance after both sides had presented their cases and closing arguments were about to begin. He asserted that a possible witness had just been disclosed but admitted he had not spoken to or met with the witness.
The court explained that in order to successfully argue that a continuance is necessary to permit a party to present an additional witness, the moving party must show a diligent attempt to secure the presence of the witness, the witness would offer testimony that is substantially favorable to the moving party, and that the witness is both able and willing to testify. The moving party must also prove that the denial of the continuance would result in substantial prejudice. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant failed to make the showing required under Florida law. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.
Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida
In many instances in which a person is charged with murder or another violent crime, eyewitness testimony is critical to obtaining a just result. If you are charged with a violent offense, you should retain a lawyer who will fight to protect your rights, including the right to present evidence in your favor. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Sarasota attorney who is adept at helping people charged with violent crimes seek just outcomes, and if you engage his services, he will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Hanlon via the form online or at 941-462-1789 or to set up a consultation.