Multiple acts of battery may be deemed a single criminal offense, or each act may be charged separately. However, regardless of how battery crimes are charged, the State must prove each element of the offense to get a conviction, which necessitates properly advising the jury on how to examine the evidence provided at trial. This was addressed in a recent Florida decision that looked at what constituted a proper jury instruction in a battery case. If you’ve been charged with battery, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer about your options.
The Battery Allegations
According to reports, the defendant and the victim, who was his ex-girlfriend, had a verbal altercation. During the disagreement, the defendant snatched a lit cigarette from the victim’s hand, shoved her, and pushed her. With two or more battery convictions, he was charged with battery. During the trial, the defendant’s attorney objected to the verdict form since it did not differentiate between each act, and he said that a unanimous verdict was not required. The objection was overruled by the court, which determined that there was a continuous series of occurrences with no intervening actions. The defendant was found guilty and filed an appeal.
Charges in Florida Battery Cases
A trial court’s employment of a generic verdict form that does not assure a unanimous verdict is a reversible error, the court argued on appeal. A jury cannot condemn a person if a single count encompasses numerous independent offenses, even if they all violate the same statute. A jury must reach a unanimous decision on at least one of the acts described. The defendant in this case claimed that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to deliberate on three different incidents of battery although he was only charged with one.
He went on to say that each act was unique and that the State erred in its closing argument by implying otherwise. Finally, he claimed that the trial court’s inability to modify the jury verdict form harmed the jury’s ability to reach a unanimous decision. The court indicated that each of the crimes may be regarded part of a single criminal episode, or they could conclude that each conduct constituted a distinct crime after evaluating the evidence of record. However, the court held that just because each juror assessed the acts differently did not preclude them from reaching a unanimous decision on whether each element of the crime was met and, thus, whether the defendant committed the crime. As a result, the defendant’s conviction was upheld.
Meet with a Seasoned Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer
Violent crimes carry serious consequences, thus anyone accused of battery should consult with an attorney. If you are accused of committing battery or any other violent crime, the trusted Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling at 941-462-1789 to set up a conference.