The family of a Florida man Marlon Brown has released video of his death, hoping to get criminal charges filed against the DeLand police officer who ran him over. Brown was being chased by police because they allegedly saw that he was not wearing a seatbelt. At a dead-end road, Brown stopped his car and started running. One of the police cars hit and ran him over, its dashcam video recording the entire incident.
A grand jury decided not to indict officer James Harris on a criminal charge of vehicular manslaughter. That’s when the family decided to go public, and release the video. The family stated they knew that the video is hard to watch, but they feel that in order to obtain justice, releasing the video was something that they had to do.
When charged with a crime, prosecutors often have a choice between seeking an indictment from a grand jury and filing a charging document directly with the court. The prosecutor will either:
– decide that the case should be charged (as a felony or a misdemeanor), and file a complaint with the trial court
– decide that the case should be charged as a felony and bring evidence before citizens serving as grand jurors, who will decide what charges, if any, to file, or
– decide that the matter should not be pursued (charges dismissed or diverted)
– Prosecutors can file charges on all crimes for which the police arrested a suspect, but have the option to also file charges that are more or less severe than the charges leveled by the police.
A charging document is usually called an information, accusation, or complaint, to distinguish it from a grand-jury indictment. To protect the accused’s due-process rights in felony cases, where the accused’s freedom is at stake, there is usually a preliminary hearing, at which time the judge presiding will determine whether there was sufficient probable cause to arrest the accused who is in custody.
The substance of an indictment or other charging instrument usually consists of a short and plain statement of where, when, and how the accused allegedly committed the offense. Each offense usually is set out in a separate count. If a felony is involved, prosecutors sometimes leave it to grand juries to decide whether charges should be filed.
The process of proceeding in the legal system becomes more complex when a grand jury is involved. Grand juries are similar to regular trial juries (called “petit juries”) in that they are made up of randomly selected individuals. The grand jurors listen to evidence and decide whether charges should be brought against the individual accused. Grand Juries present problems for the accused, because jurors are people with opinions, beliefs, and discriminatory practices that may or may not play a factor in whether the accused is charged, and what level of charge is brought.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, many times involving hearing witness testimony that will be used to charge the accused with a crime, without the suspect or the suspect’s lawyer present. To add to the trouble of secrecy, many times, direct action by many Prosecutors in attempting to keep mitigating evidence out of the view of the grand jury causes falsely accused parties to become victims of a State operated legal system.
When a prosecutor brings a case to a grand jury, the prosecutor presents the jurors with a “charging bill” and usually introduces the minimum amount of evidence necessary to secure an indictment. Prosecutors do not like to overwhelmingly meet their burden of proof in the grand jury proceeding, many times because of fear that the indicted suspect and his experienced attorney will later obtain a transcript of the grand jury proceedings, which can and will often be used to blast holes in the prosecution’s case.
An experienced attorney will bring all evidence to light, including deposing state witnesses and examining any and all evidence available. This examination many times reveal major problems in the State’s case that will allow one’s charge to be lessened or dismissed, problems that may be missed if one obtains a shoddy defense.
If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, one’s attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence, argue any potential defenses to one’s charge, and possibly have either one’s charge dismissed, or have one’s punishment considerably lessened, possibly involving only probation or house arrest.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source:Angry Family Releases Video of Police Officer Running Over Florida Man after Chase Involving Seatbelt Violation, Kim Segal, CNN