Spouse Of Orlando Pulse Shooter Acquitted On All Charges
The highly publicized case involving the widow of the Orlando, FL Pulse nightclub shooter came to a conclusion on March 30, 2018, as a jury acquitted the woman on counts that she helped her husband plan the incident. Florida Today noted that, during two days of deliberations, the jury had asked the presiding judge to clarify some definitions and descriptions regarding the charges. Jurors also requested a copy of the defendant’s statement to the FBI immediately following the shooting in 2016. These interactions could be some indication that the jury had issues in finding the woman guilty, which goes directly to the prosecuting attorney’s burden in a criminal case.
The case is a reminder that a jury must acquit unless there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and you cannot underestimate the importance of a good defense. It is critical to retain skilled criminal defense lawyer to fight the charges, often through pre-trial and trial defenses.
As the term suggests, your attorney may raise pre-trial defenses at any time before your matter goes to a full trial. These legal challenges typically involve arguments about civil rights violations, such as:
- That law enforcement officers engaged in an illegal search and seizure to obtain evidence against you;
- While you were driving in your car, police pulled you over pursuant to a warrantless stop;
- You were not granted a speedy trial as required by the US Constitution; or,
- The statute of limitations that applies to your case expired before your arrest.
Procedure for Raising
Your criminal defense lawyer will bring these defenses to the court’s attention by filing an official request, called a motion.
- Motions to Suppress ask the court to determine that illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in the charges against you and should be thrown out. If successful, the charges against you may be dropped because there is not enough evidence to convict you.
- A Motion to Dismiss may be appropriate where all of the evidence against you is still not enough for the prosecutor to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if you do not prevail, a prosecutor may recognize weaknesses in the charges and agree to a plea bargain.
You may have additional defenses once your trial begins, and there are two general types:
- You may have an Affirmative Defense to the charges, where you effectively admit to the conduct, but demonstrate that you had a legally justifiable reason for acting. Some examples include:
- You were acting on advice of counsel;
- Someone put such pressure upon you that you acted under duress;
- Entrapment by law enforcement officers;
- Insanity; and,
- Others depending on your case.
Note that, while the prosecuting attorney has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant bears the burden for proving affirmative defenses.
- You may have the defense of Insufficient Evidence where the prosecutor does not meet the burden of proof with respect to each element of the charges against you.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today
For more information on the strategies Florida lawyers use to defend your interests, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik to schedule a confidential consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office.