Myths About Florida Criminal Cases

When most people think about criminal procedures and processes, the first thing that often comes to mind are their favorite criminal drama TV shows like CSI or NYPD Blue. What they don’t realize is that in real life, the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure dictate how the criminal case should move forward. One also has to keep in mind the complexity of legal jargon, the application of case law and statues, as well as the fact that every citizen has constitutional rights that must be applied to every case.

The best way to get a solid legal defense is to consult with a criminal law attorney that practices specifically in Florida while making sure to not mistake the following misconceptions for an actual fact:

Prosecutors Must Prove Motive

While being able to prove motive could help advance a criminal case, it’s not the be all and end all of a case’s conviction requirements. Aside from the criminal act that has been committed, the prosecutor will mainly focus on the following important facts:

  • Mens Rea: This is a Latin term that basically means being in a negative mind state, but in a criminal case it refers to the person’s state of mind at the time of the incident in question. Example terms frequently discussed in criminal cases include intentional, knowing, recklessness (or gross negligence), negligence, or even unintentional acts.
  • Actus Reus: This is another Latin term that means “a bad act”, and in a criminal case it refers to the crime or conduct itself.

As you can see, prosecutors don’t view motive as being a necessary component of proving crime-doing without reasonable doubt because generally, proving motivation is not a required element of most offenses. It might be brought in at some stage in the form of circumstantial evidence but it’s typically not essential to proving the crime.

Police Have to Stop Interrogating You If You Stay Silent

Just because the 5th Amendment says that you have the right to remain silent when being questioned by the police doesn’t mean that the police don’t have a right to question you. The best you can do in this situation is to just keep quiet and not answer any of the questions being posed by the police officers until you have legal representation present. Besides, evidence that’s obtained while an accused is in custody without an attorney present after one is requested is not admissible in court. Nevertheless, interrogators may still try to ask you questions, just in case you crack and say something that they might be able to use when convicting you later. It’s simple, if you don’t want to speak to the police, make a clear and unambiguous request for an attorney to be present during any questioning.

The Case Will Be Dismissed Without DNA Evidence

There are many other forms of proof that can be used to convict you aside from fingerprints, hair, DNA test results and other forms of forensic information.

For example, a prosecutor may use other types of evidence like:

  • Circumstantial evidence
  • Admissions and incriminating statements by the accused
  • Testimonials from victims and witnesses
  • Incriminating evidence such as official documents or computer records
  • Surveillance video footage
  • Character witness accounts
  • Other forms of evidence

The Case Will be Dismissed if Miranda Rights Are Not Read to the Suspect

Just because the cops who arrested you didn’t tell you your rights before taking you into custody doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get off the hook that easily. The reality is that law enforcement officials often only read you your rights when they’ve taken you into custody and before they start interrogating you. Technically, there is no law requiring that Miranda rights be outlined or explained to you. However, if an officer seeks to elicit an incriminating response through verbal (questioning) or even non-verbal conduct, Miranda rights must be read. Otherwise, any elicited statements (not spontaneous statements) made by the suspect will not be allowed into evidence at trial upon a successful Motion to Suppress.