Criminal Law News
Jodi Arias’ defense attorneys filed a motion for a mistrial after a witness and longtime childhood friend of Arias, Patricia Womack, told defense attorneys that she was withdrawing her offer to testify because she was being threatened. Ms. Arias’ Criminal Defense Attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Co-counsel Jennifer Willmott also filed a motion to withdraw, which may be explained by the fact that there is a conflict between them and their client. Defense attorneys are arguing to save Arias’ life after a jury found her guilty on May 8, 2013 of first degree murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. However, Arias gave an interview to KSAX-TV right after her conviction stating “she preferred death over life in prison.” Judge Sherry Stephens denied both motions at the hearing on Monday May 18, 2013.
Thirty year old Alexander was found dead in his Mesa Arizona home in 2008, with a gun shot in the head, stabbed nearly 30 times and his throat slit. Arias, 32, said she killed Alexander, her secret lover, in self-defense. During the four month trial, Arias’ defense team argued that Travis Alexander was a sexual deviant and womanizer who forced Arias to act in self-defense in his death. After more than 15 hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict indicating that it rejected the self-defense claim and the defense psychologist Richard Samuels’ diagnosis that Arias suffered from PTSD and acute stress disorder.
The jury that convicted Arias declared that she was eligible for the death penalty. Arias is expected to testify at her sentencing hearing this week. Her testimony could depend on whether the jury will decide to impose the death penalty or life in prison for the death of Alexander. Alexander’s family testified in open court about the emotional devastation the murder has caused them. Darryl Brewer, an ex-boyfriend of Arias, is expected to testify on her behalf at the sentencing hearing and may be her only witness if family or other friends do not decide to testify.
Judge Sherry Stephens instructed jurors they could consider a number of mitigating facts when deciding what sentence to impose such as Arias’ character, background, lack of a prior criminal record, abusive childhood and that she is a talented artist. Under Arizona law, if the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision on sentencing, they will be dismissed and a new jury would be selected to hear arguments and determine the sentence. If the second jury panel is unable to reach a decision, then it would be up to the Judge to impose the sentence.
The jury began its third day of deliberations on whether to sentence the defendant to death. There is a possibility that prosecutors may retry the penalty phase of the case if the jury is deadlocked. The district attorney’s office of Maricopa County, Arizona will have to weigh whether the time and resources of finding a new jury, setting new court dates, and trying to reach a death sentence, which could take months, are a good option if the jury can’t reach a unanimous decision.
Fighting Arizona Murder Charges
In Arizona, a murder conviction could mean long prison sentences including life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty, fines and having to pay restitution to the victim’s family. If you are facing Arizona charges of murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, manslaughter, aggravated assault or other related offenses, the assistance of an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney is necessary to help you fight these serious charges. The attorney will be able to raise strong defenses on your behalf such as self-defense, defense of others, accident, not guilty by reason of insanity, diminished capacity, negligence and other defenses to try and get your charges reduced to a lesser crime, get you a plea bargain or get the case dismissed.
Wrongly Accused in Sex / Murder Case
Many innocent persons are wrongly charged victims as a result of police suspecting them of a crime based upon a wrong tip or bad evidence. Their lives are affected when their homes, businesses and personal property are searched, their names are put in the newspaper and their reputations are tarnished with being accused of a crime. Even after they are acquitted or charges are dropped, their lives can continue to be disrupted under the cloud of suspicion initially raised against them.
Matthew Hurayt Case
Take for instance the Matthew Hurayt Case. In 2006, Matthew Hurayt and his roommate John McDonough were arrested because a tipster told police that Hurayt had raped and killed De Jesus and buried her body under his new garage. Police searched Hurayt ’s house, dug up his yard and under his garage looking for De Jesus’ remains, which were not found. After spending a weekend in jail for suspicion of aggravated murder of De Jesus, who vanished mysteriously in 2004, Hurayt, a convicted sex offender, and his roommate were ordered released by a Judge on September 25, 2006, who rejected the assistant county prosecutor’s request to increase the bond on an unrelated assault case.
Hurayt subsequently filed a claim for compensation for $20,000 in damages to his property with the city’s Moral Claims Commission, but the claim was rejected. In 2006, he was convicted on an assault case and released in 2010. For the past three years, he has been harassed by people who broke his windows, set fire to his garage and harassed him with telephone calls thinking he was still connected to Gena De Jesus’ case.
Gena De Jesus along with victims Amanda Berry and Michele Knight were found alive on Monday May 6, 2013, after a 911 call led police to a house in Cleveland, Ohio where the three young women had been held in captivity for approximately 10 years. In a press conference, De Jesus’ mother called upon the community not to retaliate against the family of the three suspects arrested in the girls’ kidnapping case, referring to the Castro brothers.
Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help Wrongfully Accused
If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, an Ohio criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges and clear your good name and reputation to get the charges acquitted or the case dismissed. Your Ohio criminal defense attorney can also determine if your records can be sealed and help you with the process so that your life is not further disrupted, making it more difficult to find a place to live or a job. In the circumstance above, Hurayt was convicted of another case and had to register as a sex offender regardless of the false accusations surrounding the De Jesus case. Our legal system has a basic footing in which “the law presumes that persons charged with a crime are innocent until they are proven by competent evidence to be guilty.” This quote is found in the comments on Supreme Court case Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432 (1895).
California Hazing Codes
Participating in a hazing crime in California is considered a serious offense. You could be charged with a misdemeanor hazing offense or a felony hazing offense depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime and whether someone died. If convicted, you could face jail time and/or fines and penalties. Under California Penal Code 245.6, a hazing crime must involve the following circumstances:
• Be part of an initiation or pre-initiation ceremony into a student organization or student body
• Involve serious bodily injury to a student at a school or college
• The hazing event does not include customary sanctioned athletic events or school events
This means that a hazing crime must occur in at school setting such as a high school of college sporting event or a sorority or fraternity pledging where upperclassmen or women are requiring freshmen to go through a series of tests. An example is the sports hazing death of Florida A & M drum major Robert Champion in 2011.
For criminal penalties to incur, serious bodily injury must include something like the following:
• Loss of consciousness
• A head injury such as a concussion
• A broken bone
• Loss or impairment of a body part
• A wound requiring extensive stitches
• Serious disfigurement
Even if someone is not seriously injured, if the hazing could cause a serious bodily injury to any student in school or college in the State of California, it is still considered a crime. However, a hazing incident which is considered humiliating or degrading would not be considered a crime under California Penal Code 245.6. Customary school athletic events or other events planned by the school administration are also not considered criminal hazing events.
When someone is seriously injured or dies as a result of a hazing event in California, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge anyone who participated in the hazing with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history.
If convicted of a misdemeanor hazing criminal in California, you could face a minimum fine of $100 to a maximum up to $5,000, and/or a one year jail sentence. If you are convicted of a felony hazing charge, you could face a minimum 16 months up to three years jail time. If you are a minor charged with a hazing offense, the case will be under the jurisdiction of the California Juvenile Court system instead of the California Criminal Court system.
A hazing victim or family of the victim may also file a civil lawsuit for damages against you or an organization that the victim was attempting to join if someone associated with the organization authorized the hazing incident. So you could face both a criminal and non-criminal civil proceeding.
Fighting Your Hazing Charges
If you are charged with a hazing offense in California regarding a high school or college hazing matter, a knowledgeable and experienced California criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges by arguing strong defenses to try and get the charges reduced to a lesser crime or get the case dismissed so that you don’t ruin your life and miss the opportunity to receive academic or athletic scholarships or other funding or jeopardize your changes of playing professional sports.
Importance of DNA Testing in Criminal Cases and Convictions
Recently the Virginia Supreme Court exonerated Gary Diamond, a man who was convicted of abducting a woman and her two children from an Interstate 95 rest stop in Prince William County in 1976. Mr. Diamond served approximately 3 years of a 15 year sentence for two separate abductions a month apart, one of which he admitted guilt and the other where he maintained his innocence. The justices in the case granted Mr. Diamond a writ of actual innocence after DNA testing eliminated him as the person whose bodily fluids were found on the woman’s clothing.
The exoneration came about as the State’s Department of Forensic Science was in the midst of reviewing old cases where biological evidence had been collected prior to the availability of DNA testing. As a result, the mistake was discovered in Mr. Diamond’s case. Mr. Diamond’s appeal attorney of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, pointed out that this is another example of an unfortunate circumstance of an innocent person being found guilty of a crime they did not commit. A total of 8 people have been exonerated in Virginia as a result of these investigations. The Virginia attorney general’s office supported the Diamond petition for writ of actual innocence.
The use of DNA technology is the preferred method of linking an individual to a crime and is used in many criminal trials. DNA testing in an effective tool in proving the innocence of people who were wrongly convicted. Many old cases are being re-opened to exonerate innocent people. How DNA works is when a blood or hair sample or bodily fluids are taken from a crime scene or victim, they are compared with the suspect’s known DNA. The results can exonerate a person by showing that they are not a match. A DNA expert can testify to this at trial that the person is innocent and should be released. Many people have been exonerated through DNA testing even though they may have served many years in prison or were facing the death penalty.
If you have been charged with a crime in Virginia or have been convicted of a crime that you did not commit, DNA evidence can play an important role in eliminating you as a suspect in that crime or getting you exonerated. A good Virginia criminal defense attorney can help you fight your charges to get the case dismissed on lack of evidence or help you clear you name post -conviction by getting the case reopened and having your DNA tested to prove your innocence.
Government authorities have apprehended and charged 19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston marathon bombings, which took place on Monday April 15, 2013. The suspect was taken to an area hospital where he is recovering from gunshot wounds to his head, neck, legs and hand. The other suspect, 26 year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and the older brother of suspect Dzhorkhar Tasrnaev, was killed in a gun battle between police on Thursday April 18, 2013, in Watertown after police found a car stolen earlier in the evening by the suspects during a carjacking. The man whose car had been carjacked told police that the suspects forced him to withdraw money from an ATM. He was later able to escape when the suspects stopped for gas.
Authorities were able to identify the suspects through security cameras with video and still images, which showed the two brothers carrying and placing two backpacks near the finish line of the Boston Marathon race containing pressure cooker bombs that exploded through the crowd, killing three people and wounding more than 200, many of whom lost limbs and some whom are still being treated at area hospitals. Authorities have decided to use the “public safety exception instead of giving Dzhokhar his Miranda rights in order to question and obtain information from him as to the motives and whether others were involved. According to government officials, although the suspect is unable to speak as the result of a wound to his throat, he communicated to investigators that he and his brother acted alone and that they learned how to make bombs on the Internet. A 10 page complaint has been filed charging Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with two federal charges – conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property with an explosive device and could face the death penalty.
A lawyer for the widow of deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, says she knew nothing about her husband’s involvement in the bombings until she learned about it on television like everyone else. FBI investigators visited the lawyer at her parent’s home in Rhode Island on Sunday, April 21, 2013. Investigators are looking into possible motives and whether the brothers had ties to Islamic terror cells. Of particular interest to investigators is a sixth month period that Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent in a predominately Muslim province of Dagestan and Chechnya to determine if he may have been radicalized by militants in the area.
Facing Terrorist Charges
After 911, federal and Massachusetts laws and penalties have become stricter regarding acts of terrorism in the United States. Law enforcement agencies have been working together to stop terrorism plots and activities and prosecutors are vigorously prosecuting those accused of committing terrorist acts.
If convicted of a crime of terrorism such as using weapons of mass destruction, you could face life in prison without parole or the death sentence when victims are massacred such as in the case of the Boston Marathon bombings. Even if you did not commit a terrorist act, you could still be charged with related charges of aiding a known terrorist or hindering a prosecution resulting in jail time and/or other penalties or fines. If you believe that you are the target of an investigation relating to a terrorist act or you have been charged with terrorism or related offenses, these are serious charges that require the representation of an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney
Seriousness of College/High School Hazing Crimes
According to a survey conducted by Alfred University, approximately 80% of all college athletes have been hazed survey. Most hazing on high school, college and pro levels is not reported. However, since 1980, the media has brought to the public’s attention through police reports or the courts more hazing among athletes being abused. Several athletes have suffered serious injuries and death.
Northern Illinois University Fraternity Members Face hazing Charges After Student Dies
A more recent incident involving hazing occurred last year when members of a Northern Illinois University fraternity turned themselves in after the death of a freshman, David Bogenberger, 19. According to the coroner, Bogenberger was found dead on November 2, 2012, as a result of cardiac arrhythmia, with alcohol intoxication and a blood –alcohol content five times that of the legal driving limit, after a night of drinking. The night before Bogenberger’s death, he had participated in a non-sanctioned event called “parents’ night,” which involved fraternity pledges moving from room to room, answering questions from other fraternity members and being provided with alcohol. A spokesperson for the University said the fraternity and 31 members have been accused of violating the school code of conduct and zero tolerance for hazing. The fraternity could be asked to forfeit its standing as a student organization and the students could face expulsion and other penalties.
Illinois Hazing Laws
Under Illinois law, hazing is illegal. According to Lt. Jason Leverton of the Dekalb, Illinois police department, 22 arrest warrants were issued for members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Five of the fraternity members were charged with felony hazing and 17 more face misdemeanor charges. The 17 students facing misdemeanor charges could spend up to one year in jail and receive $10,000 in fines if convicted. The other 5 members charged with felony hazing could spend from one to three years in jail and face $25,000 fines if convicted. There are 44 other states that have laws banning hazing. The hazing death of Florida A & M drum major Robert Champion in 2011 has also brought the seriousness of college and sports hazing to the forefront.
Participating in a hazing event can have serious consequences, especially if someone dies as a result of the hazing. Persons who have been charged with felony or misdemeanor hazing require the assistance of a good Illinois criminal defense attorney to help them fight the charges. While hazing is sometimes hard to prove and juries have a hard time understanding it, such charges should be taken seriously, as they can ruin a student athlete’s life jeopardizing scholarship and other funding and their chance to play college or professional sports.
Rutgers Basketball Coach Rice Fired for Shoving Players and Using Gay Slurs
On April 3, 2013, Rutgers University President Robert L. Barchi and Athletic Director Tim Pernetti made a joint decision to fire Rutgers basketball Coach Rice after an ESPN videotape, made by a former Rutgers employee, was broadcast on Tuesday April 2, 2013 showing Coach Rice shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players and using gay slurs during incidents occurring during 2010 through last year. Athletic Director Tim Pernetti had previously notified President Barchi last fall of such incidents. The University sought the advice of internal and outside counsel and made the decision to suspend Coach Rice for three games, penalized him $75,000 in fines, which also included loss of salary, ordered him to undergo anger management counseling and put him on notice of the University’s zero tolerance policy of any additional infractions. The scandal broke in the midst of televised March Madness Basketball Playoffs.
Fired Coach Mike Rice admitted he was wrong and has made no excuses for his behavior. Tim Pernetti, the Athletic Directora top in house lawyer and an assistance coach, Jimmy Martelli also have resigned. The Associated Press details reveal Pernetti walks away with $1.2 million in salary plus car allowance, health insurance and more. Additionally, Rice’s firing was not for cause which allows his contract to demand just over $1 million or 75% of his remaining salary, plus a $100,000 bonus for staying on the job during the 2012-2013 season. Coach Rice’s behavior has received sharp criticism from Governor Chris Christie as well as some faculty members, alumni, students and from social media comments from the public.
Will Coach Rice Face Criminal Charges?
There are a wide range of opinions as to whether Coach Rice should be charged with any criminal charges. Whether Coach Rice committed a crime such as simple assault or a more serious hate crime offense has not been investigated or determined. Although State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is calling for hearings regarding the incident.
New Jersey Simple Assault Offense
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a), the offense of attempted simple assault is “considered a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.”
New Jersey laws define simple assault as when an individual attempts to cause bodily injury to another person or puts that person in fear of imminent serious harm or engages in menacing conduct. Such conduct includes:
“(1) Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
(2) Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
(3) Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.”
Under the statute, “Bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” are further defined as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. Sentencing and penalties include up to 6 months in jail or up to a maximum of 30 days in jail for petty disorderly offenses with fines ranging up to $1,000. The simple assault crime can be charged as a second, third or fourth degree offense depending on the level of assault and who the assault was committed against.
New Jersey Bias Intimidation Statute 2C:16-1
In addition to being charged with a simple assault offense, a person could also face a bias intimidation charge (hate crime) under New Jersey Bias Intimidation Statute 2C:16-1. Under such Statute, a person is considered guilty of the crime of bias intimidation if he or she commits or conspires with another with a purpose of intimidating an individual or group of individuals with regard to their race, color, religion, gender, handicap or sexual orientation or ethnicity. If convicted, a person can face up to a 30 year prison sentence for bias intimidation in New Jersey.
If you are facing an assault and/or bias intimidation charge in the State of New Jersey, you should consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges. Since New Jersey criminal laws are complex, a good New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help defend you and guide you through the criminal justice system making sure your rights are protected. If you’ve ever play organized sports, you know that there are a lot of coaches who’s coaching style is through violence and intimidation as a motivational technique. However, coaches rarely are arrested for such violence against their players. Players rarely have incentive to report such assaults. The situation is complicated as coaches have the power to revoke athletic scholarships. More work needs to be done to keep winning coaches, successful athletic departments and key college athletes all on the playing field. Success is more than just being good at your sport.
A Look at the Prosecutorial Decision Making Process
The Vera Institute of Justice’s study entitled The Anatomy of Discretion: An Analysis of Prosecutorial Decision Making, with the support of the National Institute of Justice, analyzed how prosecutors make decisions in criminal cases. The Vera Institute conducted their study by looking at such factors as initial case screening and charging decision, plea bargains, recommendations for sentencing and case dismissal filings. The purpose of the study was to determine whether the current prosecutorial decision making process lack of public oversight is really serving the goals of the criminal justice system and fairness to defendants and victims.
The study found that while prosecutors said they were “committed to doing the right thing,” prosecutors had differences of opinions on what is considered “fair treatment” of victims and defendants, preferred different plea bargaining strategies and had different constraints placed upon them. However, the study revealed that there were two common questions that prosecutors asked themselves, which influenced the outcomes of their decision making process-Can I prove the case? And should I prove the case?
Results of the study reflect that prosecutors used the strength of evidence as the primary factor in their decision making process balanced by other factors such as the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s prior criminal history, fairness to the victim and defendant as well as contextual factors such as office polices, constraints of lack of resources such as shortage of courtrooms and judges and their relationships with colleagues and other actors in the criminal justice system including law enforcement officers, judges and defense attorneys in making their decisions. The study recommended that future research should focus on the magnitude of these constraints and the pressures they have on influencing prosecutorial decisions.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help?
Since the investigation and prosecution of defendants is a very complicated process of rules and procedures, influenced by the constraints placed upon prosecutors, it is necessary for defendants to seek the advice and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help them fight their charges and make sure they are being fairly represented.
If you are facing criminal charges for a misdemeanor or felony including DUI, vehicular manslaughter, drug crimes, white collar crimes, violent crimes, property crimes, possession of marijuana, domestic violence or sex crimes, having the proper legal representation can influence the outcome of your case. Imhoff & Associates-Criminal Attorneys understand how to navigate the criminal justice system. We have earned a reputation for working with prosecutors and law enforcement to make sure that you receive a fair and just defense. Your Imhoff criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate all the evidence against, build a strong defense on your behalf and negotiate with the prosecutor to either get your charges reduced to a lesser offense, negotiate alternative sentencing for you or try to get the case dropped for lack of sufficient evidence.
The Sequester May Affect Your Right to Legal Representation
This year marks the 50th anniversary of two historic 1960’s Supreme Court cases which guaranteed certain constitutional rights to individuals arrested for a crime. As of the result of the Supreme Court decisions in the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) and Gideon v Wainwright (1963) cases, persons who have been arrested for a crime have the following constitutional rights:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to an attorney
- The right to have an attorney appointed for you if you cannot afford to pay for your legal defense
Miranda v. Arizona The Miranda case began in 1963 when Miranda was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona for allegedly kidnapping and raping a 17 year old girl, which ultimately resulted in his conviction for these crimes and a sentence of 20-30 years imprisonment on each count based upon a signed confession Miranda gave to police. In 1966, the Miranda v. Arizona case came before the Supreme Court and was consolidated with four similar cases involving police interrogations (Miranda v. Arizona, Vignera v. New York, Westover v. United States and California v. Stewart). The defendants in these cases were all charged with a crime, interrogated by police without legal counsel and all signed confessions that were used in Court to convict them.
The Supreme Court overturned the convictions of Miranda, Vignera and Westover and sustained the California Supreme Court’s reversal of Steward, holding that the defendants’ constitutional rights were violated under the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent. Although, Miranda was given a second trial without his confession introduced into evidence, he was convicted again and given the same sentences.
In the Gideon v. Wainwright case, the defendant Gideon was charged with a noncapital felony crime. The Supreme Court held that the defendant Gideon’s constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment (right to legal counsel in all criminal cases) and the Fourteenth Amendment (right to due process) were violated by the lower court when they denied him the right to legal counsel based upon Florida law that only guaranteed the right of the state to appoint legal counsel to indigent persons involved in a capital murder offense.
It is important to understand that if you do not exercise your constitutional rights guaranteed by the Miranda and Gideon cases, it could negatively affect the outcome of your case. Anything you say to the police can be used against you in court. Without adequate legal representation, you could be convicted of a crime even if you are innocent. The services of public defender’s office are extremely important to the poor and people of color who cannot afford to hire an attorney to pay for their own legal defense. The sequester and other budget cuts are not only negatively impacting the offices of federal public defenders who are laying off or furloughing their much needed staff, but also the judicial system and communities, which may become less safe.
People of color and the poor who need the public defender’s services may not be able to receive an adequate defense because public defenders’ offices are short staffed and overworked with too many cases. This can result in innocent people being convicted or unnecessary plea bargaining on certain cases that might otherwise be won or the charges dropped.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are arrested for a crime in the Phoenix, Arizona or surrounding area or in the State of Florida, you should remain silent in order to protect your rights until you have consulted with a criminal defense attorney. Once you ask for an attorney, the police cannot question you without your attorney being present. Having the proper legal representation can affect the outcome of your case. A good criminal defense attorney understands the criminal justice system, has relationships with prosecutors and can mount a strong defense to fight your charges.
At Imhoff & Associates-Criminal Attorneys, we provide our clients with high quality legal representation at affordable fees. Your Imhoff criminal defense attorney will investigate all the evidence against you making sure that the police did not violate any of your constitutional rights. Whether you case is in Arizona or Florida, we have a team of experienced and knowledgeable Arizona criminal defense attorneys and Florida criminal defense attorneys available to represent you. Your Imhoff criminal defense attorney will build a vigorous defense on your behalf to fight your charges and will negotiate with the prosecutor to get your charges reduced to a lesser crime, get you community service, probation or other alternative sentencing or get your case dropped.
Defendants in FAMU 2011 Hazing Death Case Now Facing Stricter Manslaughter Charges
Stiffer charges of manslaughter have now been filed by the new prosecutor against the 13 defendants accused of participating in the 2011 death of 26 year old Florida A & M University (“FAMU”) marching band member Robert Champion. According to authorities, Champion died of multiple blows from many individuals during a hazing ritual aboard a charter bus parked in a hotel parking lot after an annual rivalry football game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman in 2011. In addition, prosecutors have also charged two more individuals with manslaughter, who are awaiting arrests.
The manslaughter charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison in Florida. A status hearing on the case has been set for August 2013. It is not unusual for prosecutors to charge a defendant with a lesser charge while investigations are ongoing and later change the charge to a stricter one when more evidence has been found to justifying doing so.
Two other former band members were not among the 13 charged. Their cases were resolved last year. Both defendants pleaded no-contest to third degree felony hazing and have since been sentenced. One former FAMU band member received six months of community control, two years probation and 200 hours of community service. The other band member received four years of probation and 200 hours of community service. The FAMU has since taken measures to fight hazing and has suspended the band. The University is also looking for a new director of the band. Champion’s parents previously rejected an offer to settlement with the University for $300,000 in a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Champions against the University.
Manslaughter differs from murder in that it is the result of killing someone without premeditation or malice as a result of an accidental death. In Florida, manslaughter is considered a second degree felony. A manslaughter conviction carries up to 15 years in state prison.
Florida Manslaughter Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know have been charged with a manslaughter offense in Florida, you should hire a Florida manslaughter criminal defense attorney immediately. At Imhoff & Associates-Criminal Attorneys, we have years of experience diligently representing clients charged with manslaughter. Your Imhoff criminal defense attorney will review all the details of your case to make sure that the all the facts are uncovered so that we can build a strong defense on your behalf. Your Imhoff attorney will argue such defenses as excusable homicide (result of an accident or in the heat of passion), justifiable homicide or self-defense (resisting an attempt by someone to kill or harm you, defending yourself) or defense of others in order to get your charges reduced to a lesser crime, get you alternative sentencing or get your charges dropped, depending on your specific case details.
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