Christian v. Wellington – Overcoming a Mountain of Evidence

There is a tendency among criminal defendants facing serious felony charges to assume they have few options. gun41.jpg

Pressured by prosecutors and busy public defenders, defendants may be be quick to accept a less-than-advantageous plea deal, simply because they assume there is little chance of successfully fighting the charges at trial.

But here is what our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys want you to know: No matter what evidence is stacked against you, never conclude the rap is unbeatable. In many cases, there are factors that can matter more than the evidence.

For example, if the evidence isn’t properly collected by police, your attorney can request that it be suppressed, meaning it would not be allowed to be weighed before the jury. If the traffic stop that led to your arrest wasn’t predicated on legal grounds, everything discovered thereafter can be suppressed.

Beyond all this, you have to consider that juries aren’t as easily swayed by the testimony of police as one might think.

Take, for example, the case of Christian v. Wellington, reviewed recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Prosecutors in this case are seeking to retry a man on numerous counts of complicity to felonious assault, after an earlier trial resulted in a hung jury. That same jury found the defendant not guilty on numerous counts of felonious assault.

While the judge denied the defendant’s habeas corpus petition, finding that prosecutors could retry him on the complicity charges without violating double jeopardy laws, the case shows how it can pay to fight criminal charges, even when the evidence seems stacked against you.

According to court records, the case began in 2005 when police in Ohio initiated a traffic stop on a stolen vehicle that was believed to have been involved in an earlier robbery. The driver of the vehicle, the defendant, reportedly ignored the officers and attempted to flee. During this time, the driver reportedly struck an unmarked police car, carrying two officers.

The pursuit continued, with passengers in the vehicle shooting rifles at seven officers who were following.

The defendant was ultimately caught and arrested, charged with two counts of felonious assault for striking the unmarked car, seven counts of felonious assault for the shots that were fired at the other officers and nine counts of complicity to commit felonious assault, for the shots fired at the officers by his passengers.

This would seem like an enormous amount of evidence, particularly considering the case involved testimony of nine police officers on the state’s behalf.

But the jury still found the defendant not guilty of all the felonious assault charges.

Unfortunately, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the complicity charges. This is what prosecutors want to revisit in a second trial, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has granted them that right, denying the defendant’s argument against a retrial.

However, this defendant can never again be tried on those nine counts of felonious assault. His new trial on the complicity charges is set for later this year.

If you’ve been arrested, call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. The Ansara Law Firm serves Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:
Christian v. Wellington, Jan. 7, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Broward DUI Lawyer: Avail Yourself of Right to Remain Silent, Nov. 3, 2013, Broward Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog