After a jury finds a defendant guilty, it does not necessarily mean that the process ends there. Defendants are given an opportunity to appeal their conviction, sometimes several opportunities depending on the circumstances. In order to be successful on appeal, the defendant needs to prove that there was an error during the trial. In other words, the defendant is essentially claiming that there was something unfair or erroneous that happened during the trial that makes the jury verdict invalid. Depending on the circumstances and specific grounds the defendant is basing their appeal on, if the defendant is successful in their appeal the charges may be thrown out completely or the defendant may get a new trial. Your knowledgeable St. Petersburg sex crimes criminal defense attorney can tell you what is likely to happen in your case if you are successful in your appeal.
The Case At Issue
In a case recently heard by the Florida First District Court of Appeal, a man was convicted of three counts of sexual battery of a child under twelve. The alleged victim is the defendant’s daughter. In his appeal he argued that he should get a new trial because he was not able to confront the witnesses against him. He also argued that he did not have meaningful assistance of counsel.
Defendant’s Right to Confront Witnesses
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives criminal defendants the right to confront the witnesses against them. Typically, this means that during the trial the defendant’s counsel can cross examine the people that are testifying for the prosecution. However, the right is not absolute and there are some circumstances, like this one, where a witness will not appeal in court.
As noted above, the alleged victim is defendant’s daughter. At trial a social worker testified that the alleged victim would likely suffer “significant emotional harm” if she was to face the defendant in court. Therefore, the state set up a system where she would testify over closed circuit TV from a room above the courtroom. The defendant asked how it would work if he had an objection during her testimony but neither defendant nor his counsel formally objected to the situation.
The appeals court here noted that the court was supposed to make specific findings when they granted the state’s motion for the witness to appear via close circuit but it did not do so. While in some cases a failure to make a specific finding may be reversible, in this case it is not. The court held that because the failure to meet the statutory requirement to make specific findings was not preserved at trial then it could not be the basis for reversal now. Further, it was not fundamental error either. The court here also rejected the defendant’s argument that it was reversible error to not have a mechanism to object instantaneously, as they never requested this. Thus, the conviction was affirmed.
Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Attorney Today!
While in this case the appeals court upheld the conviction, with the assistance of a knowledgeable St. Petersburg sex crimes criminal defense attorney, you may be able to get your conviction overturned. The experienced attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm will work zealously to try to get your conviction thrown out. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with our attorneys about your case today!
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