Palm Beach County held its first criminal trial since the coronavirus was labeled a pandemic. The courtroom featured plexiglass between attorneys and jurors, everyone in the court was required to wear a mask, and social distancing is still in effect.
A public defender representing a 28-year-old woman who was charged with concealing a weapon explained that his client has waited over a year for her day in court. Court staff worked for months trying to restore the wheels of justice. After six hours of deliberations, the jury returned with a guilty verdict on felony charges.
Since the onset of the pandemic, courtrooms all over America have been closed to all but absolutely necessary hearings. These included arraignments and bail for criminal defendants. That means that defendants who were not allowed out on bail have been stuck in jail since the middle of March.
Spats Between Jurors
Spats and irritation between jurors do happen during trials, but the pandemic has added another layer to the problem. During voie dire one juror said that “they don’t want to sit here all day with a stupid mask on their face.” Another juror voiced concern that he was sitting next to someone who thought masks were stupid.
There have been some attempts, here in Florida and elsewhere, to create remote trials. However, prosecutors were very suspicious that defense attorneys would use the unique format to overturn convictions. For that reason, tele-trials never emerged from a mock-trial platform into courtrooms.
Since appeals are very much on the minds of prosecutors when they try a case, a format that diverges as little as possible from the standard courtroom proceedings is one that will be lauded by all sides as the way to go. This is the first such trial of its kind since the pandemic began in South Florida, but the pace is likely to pick up given the success of this prosecution.
Unlawful Concealment of a Weapon
Those who carry concealed weapons are required to have concealed carry permits. If the individual has a weapon on their person without the proper licensure, they are guilty of a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony has a maximum sentence of five years. There are certain instances in which the licensing requirement doesn’t apply, but none of those are triggered here.
This is a fairly simple prosecution in most cases. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant had the gun on the person in a way that wasn’t clearly visible to the average person. For example, if she had the gun holstered on her hip, then a different statute would apply. So the prosecution will involve the officers simply stating that they found the gun on the defendant’s person.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing weapons charges, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to learn more about how we can protect your rights and safeguard your future.