Florida criminal trial procedure
Florida Criminal trial procedure
Most trials follow a basic procedural format in Florida. The procedure includes:
· Opening Statements
Both parties may make an opening statement. The opening argument (note I call it an argument, not a statement) is the defense's first opportunity to tell the client's story, coupled with the theme of the case and ask for a not guilty verdict.
· State’s Case
The state presents its case first. This will can consist of witness testimony, photos, video, 911 calls, and physical evidence. The defense cross examines witnesses.
· Defense Case
The defense has no burden of proof in a criminal case. The defense many times does not put on a case. However, a defendant may present his case and he himself may be a witness at the trial. However, he may choose not to testify. The prosecutor is not allowed to comment on this decision.
· Rebuttal of the State
The state may present rebuttal testimony based solely on the issues the defense presented in its case.
· Charge Conference
This conference is held prior to closing arguments to determine jury instructions. Many times I ask for special jury instructions. The 4th DCA in an opinion stated that my special jury instruction for drug cases (constructive possession) was proper and should have been granted. They reversed the conviction because of that. Also, the 4th district court of appeals recommended that my special jury instruction be included in the new standard criminal jury instructions for Florida.
· Closing Arguments
The prosecuting attorney presents a closing argument; then, the defense will respond. Then, the prosecuting attorney may reply in rebuttal. The government gets the “sandwich” as it is called.
Verdict is read by the clerk.
"Law is not black and white, it's Grey"
Board certified criminal trial lawyer Grey Tesh has tried over 100 jury and non-jury trials to verdict in state and Federal courts from New York to Florida. Grey handles criminal and injury cases all across Florida. A trial lawyer based out of West Palm Beach, Grey has satellite offices in Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Estero, Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida.