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Florida man freed after appeal

A Florida man was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in 2012, but testimony given by the arresting officer led an appeals judge to overturn the lower court's decision. The accused assailant testified during trial that he was affected by Ambien at the time when he allegedly shot his gun into the air near his neighbors. No one was hurt in the incident, but under Florida law, he was subject to a sentence of 120 years for the criminal charge.

According to Florida's 10-20-Life law, the accused was subject to a 20 year sentence for each of the alleged six victims. During the trial, the officer that questioned the accused on the night in question acknowledged that the "did not want to talk about the incident." The defense attorneys argued that, because this statement violated the defendant's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the judge should declare a mistrial. However, despite the defense's arguments that the questioning officer's testimony would unjustly influence the jury, the alleged was convicted of the six counts of battery.

On appeal, the appeals judge agreed with the defense's assertion and ruled that a mistrial should have been declared. A new trial will be held, and his defense team plans to challenge the 10-20-Life law based on a cruel and unusual punishment.

While the case's ultimate outcome remains to be seen, Constitutional rights play an important role in criminal defense strategies. The protections are in place to ensure that individuals facing criminal charges are tried properly. The legal team in this case successfully employed an argument that the jury was unjustly influenced and the conviction was unconstitutional.

Source: The Florida Times Union, "Cop's testimony gets conviction tossed for Jacksonville man's 10-20-Life case ", Larry Hannan, November 22, 2013

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