Florida Appellate Court Upholds Order Granting a New Trial

In Florida criminal cases that are tried in front of a jury, the jury is responsible for assessing the evidence presented and issuing a verdict based on its assessment. The jury’s verdict will generally not be disturbed unless it is clearly against the weight of the evidence. If a court finds a jury’s verdict is not supported by the evidence of record, it may order a new trial.

A District Court of Appeal of Florida recently explained the standard for review for determining whether a verdict is against the weight of the evidence, in a case in which it affirmed the trial court’s order issuing a new trial. If you live in Tampa and are charged with a crime, it is important to retain an effective Tampa criminal defense attorney to help you protect your liberties.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

Allegedly, the defendant was suspected of selling controlled substances. In an attempt to build its case against the defendant, the State wiretapped an informant and sent the information to the store where the defendant worked. The video footage obtained from the informant did not contain any evidence of a drug transaction. The State charged the defendant with selling a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a childcare facility and with possession of a controlled substance with an intent to sell.

At the defendant’s trial, the informant testified that he purchased drugs from the defendant. The defendant testified on his own behalf, denying that he sold the informant drugs. The jury convicted the defendant of the possession charge. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial arguing, in part, that the verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence. The trial court granted the Motion, after which the State appealed.

Standard of Review for a Jury’s Verdict

On appeal, the court stated that orders granting a new trial are reviewed on an abuse of discretion standard. When a court is presented with a motion for a new trial based on the sufficiency of the evidence the court must use its discretion to determine whether the evidence weighed in favor of an acquittal. In doing so, the court must assess the evidence and weigh issues of credibility as if it was a juror assessing the case. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court appropriately assessed the evidence in determining whether a new trial should be granted. Upon review of the evidence, the trial court found that the informant lacked credibility and that the remainder of the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction. As such, the appellate court found the trial court’s ruling should not be disturbed.

Set Up a Consultation with a Seasoned Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

While a jury has substantial leeway to determine the outcome of a case, a verdict issued by a jury will not be upheld if the court finds it is contrary to the evidence presented. If you live in Tampa and are facing criminal charges, it is important to retain an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney who will vigorously defend you in every step of your case. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney who will work tirelessly to help you protect your rights.  Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 813-228-7095 or via the online form to set up a meeting.

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Florida Drug Crime Convict Can’t Get $750,000 Back from Cops, Court Says, July 27, 2018, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog