Sunday, October 28, 2012


Is it Sumo Wrestling or Aggravated Battery? How can you be certain of what constitutes a crime in Florida? 
The Florida Criminal Statutes may seem difficult to understand for those who aren't Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers as they often are even for those of us who are. The statutes are written in ways which may seem purposefully obscure and convoluted, not just so you won't understand them, but with the hopeful intent that a well written law will narrow the breadth of a statute to capture only the acts which the Florida legislature actually intended to outlaw or at least make you hire an attorney or two.

The key to knowing the law is to find what is known as the elements of a criminal offense. The elements of a crime are a set of specific facts which must be proven for every Florida criminal violation of law. Many Florida trial lawyers find that the Florida Criminal Jury Instructions which have been approved by The Florida Supreme Court are a reliable way to find the actual elements of a crime which the prosecution must prove to convict. Jury Instructions are the actual instructions which a criminal trial judge gives to a jury before it deliberates on guilt or innocence in every criminal case. Because these instructions are given to citizen jurors, the language is as straight forward as possible with the goal of being easy to understand. Here's an example of the Aggravated Battery instruction:

8.4 AGGRAVATED BATTERY 784.045, Fla. Stat.
To prove the crime of Aggravated Battery, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  The first element is a definition of battery.
1. (Defendant)
  [intentionally touched or struck (victim) against [his] [her] will].
[intentionally caused bodily harm to (victim)].
Give 2a or 2b as applicable.
2. (Defendant) in committing the battery
a. intentionally or knowingly caused
[great bodily harm to (victim)]. 
[permanent disability to (victim)].
[permanent disfigurement to (victim)].
b. used a deadly weapon.
Definition.  Give if 2b alleged.
A weapon is a “deadly weapon” if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
The statute might be difficult to understand but the jury instructions are simple. The State of Florida to prove an Aggravated Battery must first prove that the Defendant touched or struck someone against the victim's will, a simple battery. Then further must show that the Defendant intentionally caused either great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement. If a deadly weapon was allegedly used then the Jury would be given the definition of deadly weapon. Effectively using the Florida Criminal Jury Instructions isn't just for Clearwater Criminal Attorneys, it's also for all the Sumo wrestlers wanting to know what constitutes crime in the State of Florida.