Criminal Law

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The United States legal system is divided in to two fundamental types of court cases: civil suits and criminal cases.  Civil suits are used to resolve disputes between private parties due to someone’s negligence and criminal cases are government’s way of determining whether an individual has committed a crime and how the individual should be punished.  This paper will review a scenario involving Officer Jones and identify four crimes and a civil action.

In this case the victim approaches the officer with a blood stained shirt and lacerations to her lip and provides details of a crime that did not occur.  In an attempt to protect her husband for the crime he committed against her, she commits perjury and conjures up a story of a crime that never took place.  She states that she was robbed and beaten by a man wearing a ski mask and provides a rough description of the suspect wearing white pants and a dark shirt.  Under Florida Statute 837.05 (2015) falsifying a police report to a law enforcement officer is a criminal act and is classified as a first degree misdemeanor.  This white collar crime is considered an obstruction of justice and is punishable by law as defined in Florida Statute 775.083 (2015) with penalties of up to one year incarceration or twelve months’ probation, and a $1,000 fine.  The burden to prove the offense of false police report lies on the prosecution.  In order to prosecute the following four elements must be established:

  • The individual being accused willfully gave false information about an alleged crime.
  • The individual making the false police report knew no such crime had been committed.
  • The information was given directly to a law enforcement officer.
  • The individual knew they were providing the information for the false police report to a law enforcement officer.

The women in this scenario willfully approached the uniformed officer and provided details of a crime she knew did not occur, thus she can be convicted in the state of Florida for falsifying a police report.

The second crime that is observed in this scenario is resisting a law enforcement officer.  In the state of Florida this crime is divided into two categories, resisting a law enforcement officer with violence and resisting a law enforcement officer without violence.  In this case the officer pegged a man that matched the description that the victim provided during her report.  The officer approached the potential suspect and commanded him to stop identifying himself as a police officer.  The suspect did not adhere to the officer’s command and continued to walk away.  The individual is considered to be obstructing justice and is resisting and officer without violence according to Florida Statute 843.02 (2015), which states:

“Whoever shall resist, obstruct, or oppose any officer or other person legally authorized to execute process, without offering or doing violence to the person of the officer, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

In many criminal cases, resisting an officer without violence is used as an added offense to supplement other charges the suspect may be prosecuted with in order to secure a conviction.  Resisting an officer is an allegation that can be proven solely based on the officer’s testimony in court.   In addition to these charges, the officer can charge the suspect for possession with intent to sell, as the suspect was apprehended with a baggie of cocaine and a cell phone on his person.  We will discuss the crime of possession with intent to sell in depth in the next section of this paper.  Resisting an officer is considered a first degree misdemeanor and is punishable by law as defined in Florida Statute 775.083 (2015) with penalties of up to one year incarceration and a $1,000 fine.    Many first time offenders will also receive a permanent blemish on their record of the conviction for resisting an officer without violence.  When taken to trial, prosecutors must establish the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict the individual of the crime:

  • The suspect resisted or opposed the police officer.
  • The officer was engaged in executing the legal process.
  • The officer was legally authorized to execute.
  • The suspect knew at the time that the individual executing the process was an officer of the law.

The suspect in this case resisted the police officer when he ignored the officer’s instruction to stop and continued to walk away.  The individual was fully aware that he was being stopped by a police officer and the officer was executing the law.  Due to these elements he can be convicted of resisting a law enforcement officer in the state of Florida.

When the suspect was apprehended he was found with a baggie of cocaine and a cell phone.  Under Florida Statute 893.13 (2015), it is considered unlawful for an individual to sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess a controlled substance, such as cocaine (cannabis).  Possession of cannabis with intent to deliver or sell is classified as a second degree felony and the offender can be penalized with five to fifteen years’ incarceration, depending on the facts of the case.  In order to prosecute the offender it is imperative to establish the following elements of the crime:

  • The suspect possessed a certain controlled substance with intent to sell.
  • The substance found on the suspect is a controlled substance as defined by Florida law.
  • The defendant displays knowledge of the substance.

The defendant must display intent to sell which can be determined based on evidence found on the person at the time of arrest.  Officer Jones documented that he found a baggie of cocaine and a cell phone which can be assessed that the suspect was using the phone to contact the buyer.  In this scenario the suspect displayed knowledge of the controlled substance and had intent to sell or deliver the cocaine, thus he can be prosecuted and punished to the extent of Florida law.

During further investigation of this case, detectives exposed the victim and recognized that the injuries she suffered were as a result of domestic battery received by her husband.  In the state of Florida it is considered a criminal act to physical harm a family or household member.  Florida statute 741.28 (2015) defines domestic battery as, “any actual and intentional touching or striking of another person without consent, or the intentional causing of harm to another person, when the person struck is a family of household member.”  Under this statute the victim is protected; as she is the wife of the man that struck her and caused the lacerations of her lip.   Domestic battery is considered a first degree misdemeanor and is punishable with penalties including incarceration for up to one year and a $1,000 fine.  The offender will also be required to complete a 26 week Batterer’s Intervention Program, community service, loss of civil liberties, and an injunction order.  In this case the victim will file a proper police report and will work with the State’s Attorney Office to convict the husband of the charges.  All that is needed is a testimony, intent to harm, and proof of the alleged violence and threat to harm the victim.

As we have worked through this case we have established four criminal acts wrapped up in one scenario.  The next underlying question is whether or not civil action is displayed within this case.  A civil suit is when a plaintiff sues an individual for any caused harm.  (Hirby, 2014) Indeed, the victim that falsified the police report can be held accountable for civil action and sued by the man that was shot by the officer.  The man’s injuries were inquired due to the false police report.  He can sue for damages, medical costs, defamation of character, and legal costs.  It also helps that the victim is charged in a criminal act of falsifying a police report.

Criminal law and civil law are two very broad and separate courts of law in the judicial system.  In the scenario provided we identified four crimes that can be executed and punished in a court of law through the state government.  We have also identified a civil action in which the lies and negligence of one individual caused harm onto another.  In providing the elements of the action we are able to prosecute to the extent of the Florida law in criminal or civil courts.

References:

837.05 False reports to law enforcement authorities. (2015, June 1). Retrieved June 25, 2015, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0837/Sections/0837.05.html

775.083 Fines. (2015, June 1). Retrieved June 25, 2015, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0775/Sections/0775.083.html

843.02 Resisting officer without violence to his or her person. (2015, May 26). Retrieved June 25, 2015, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0843/Sections/0843.02.html

893.13 Prohibited acts; penalties.—. (2015, May 26). Retrieved June 29, 2015, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0893/Sections/0893.13.html

741.28 Domestic violence; definitions.—As used in ss. 741.28-741.31. (2015, May 26). Retrieved June 26, 2015, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0741/Sections/0741.28.html
Hirby, J. (2014, March 5). What Is Civil Court? Retrieved June 28, 2015, from http://thelawdictionary.org/article/what-is-civil-court/

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