Attempted Murder Charges Added in Palm Bay, FL Double Murder Case
Palm Bay police have arrested a male suspect in the shooting deaths of two men in the late afternoon hours of April 21, 2017, according to a report in Florida Today. The motivation behind the double homicide was not immediately clear, though officers described the accused as being enraged at the time he fired the deadly shots. After the shootings, the man sped off in a black SUV to Polk County and was apprehended about five hours later. During that time period, the perpetrator engaged in additional criminal activity: He allegedly jumped into the vehicle of another motorist who had stopped to help when the SUV was spotted along the side of the road. Police added attempted murder charge to the two murder charges, presumably in connection with his actions toward the Good Samaritan. The matter raises interesting questions about probable cause for attempted crimes in Florida.
Probable Cause in General
Under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, no warrants for arrest can be issued in the absence of probable cause. In addition, police cannot conduct a search of a person without first establishing probable cause. The Constitution does not go into further detail, but courts will usually find probable cause for an arrest where there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime was committed; police need some indication that a crime is present to establish probable cause for a search.
Probable Cause in Attempted Crimes
The application of probable cause in an attempted crime is complicated because the offense is incomplete: The perpetrator did not actually commit a crime, whether because he or she decided not to go forward – or because some other factor intervened. While the perpetrator does not actually complete the offense, the law does punish attempted crimes. There are two elements to an attempted crime:
- Intent to violate the law; and,
- Some conduct or steps in furtherance of the crime.
Applying these concepts in the case of the Palm Bay shooter, police would have to prove they had reasonable belief that the perpetrator had committed the crime of attempted murder. The facts do support the probable cause arrest. Law enforcement saw the Good Samaritan step out of the car and – based upon the perpetrator shooting and killing two other individuals – there was a reasonable assumption that another murder might take place had they not intervened. The accused had also taken some steps to further the crime of attempted murder because he had kidnapped the man.
A Skilled Florida Criminal Lawyer Is On Your Side
Probable cause is tricky in any criminal matter, but there are even more complicated issues involved when the offense you’re facing is an attempted crime. Prosecuting attorneys have a heavy burden to prove their case, so you’re in a better position if you hire an experienced attorney to present all available defenses – including issues with probable cause. For more information about your options in a criminal case, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik today. We’re happy to answer your questions or schedule a consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office.