A jury did not find enough evidence to convict a man of manslaughter in the death of another partygoer, but instead found him guilty of a lesser charge of felony battery. The man was accused of punching another man repeatedly while the man was already on the ground after a series of fights broke out during a bonfire, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The victim was rushed to the hospital but died from his injuries, the newspaper reported.
Police said another man initially punched the victim in the face and the man fell to the ground, the newspaper reported. That's when the man who went to trial this week jumped in, the newspaper reported. The reduction from manslaughter down to battery is very significant for the defendant. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Felony battery, however, is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month, and it will be interesting to see if the judge - who was on the bench for the entire trial - goes toward the maximum because of the reduced charge. In Florida, manslaughter is the "killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification" and "cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder."
In this Jacksonville Battery Case, the jurors likely had a difficult time with who threw the fatal punch or punches that night. The state felt it knew, however, and charged the man who initially knocked the man to the ground with battery - not manslaughter. The state tried to prove that the defendant continued to hit the man once he was on the ground, and at that point it became more than just a fight. In most Jacksonville Felony Cases that result in someone's death, prosecutors will charge the defendant with some type of charge that acknowledges the killing. Usually it's manslaughter or first- or second-degree murder. But that doesn't always mean the proof is there. In this Jacksonville Battery Case, it was not - according to a jury of the defendant's peers. In Jacksonville Criminal Defense Trials, the judge will read the jury the requirements of the charges - and lesser included charges the jury can use as alternative.
Jacksonville Felony Cases hinge on what the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and then lay out the options so you or your loved one can make the best decisions going forward.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.