Severance of Charges

By Lowry Law Firm | Posted on November 19, 2014

When a Defendant is charged with multiple offenses in the same charging document, called an Information or Indictment, he or she may be able to sever, or split up, the charges so a jury doesn’t hear evidence of all crimes alleged in one trial. This typically occurs when someone is accused of committing multiple offenses in the same night. For example, a person may be accused of burglarizing multiple homes in one night, and because each home burglarized is a charge (or “count”) in the charging document, at trial the jury will hear how he is accused of multiple burglaries, and often times will convict on all charges because they believe if he committed one, he probably committed all of them. Therefore, an experienced criminal attorney should move to sever the charges. Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Lowry is a former prosecutor and experienced defense attorney who has tried over 60 criminal jury trials. Contact Mr. Lowry to learn more about your case, the process in general, and ways to fight your charges.

Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.152 allows for charges to be severed if it will increase the likelihood of the fair determination of the Defendant’s guilt or innocence. Charges are properly joined together in the charging document when they are based on the same act or transaction, but often times defense attorneys like Mr. Lowry will file a motion requesting severance so the jury will not hear about certain allegations with others in the same trial. Like the example above, when a jury hears that a Defendant has been charged with multiple counts of the same act, they will typically believe “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, meaning if he’s charged with this many offenses, the State must have the right person. However, in that burglary example, criminal defense attorney Mark Lowry would move to sever the charges and try them separately, arguing, for example, that there was an amount of time and space between each burglary that they are not connected by the same acts or transactions, and that trying them separately would promote more fairly the determination of guilt or innocence. Another argument can be made that the manners and styles of each burglary were so different that trying them together would only force the jury to convict based on the number of homes. Yet when there are different styles to each burglary, Mr. Lowry would argue this is evidence that his client could not have committed each burglary because of their differences, showing that someone else was burglarizing these other homes.

If you or someone you love has been cited or arrested for anything, contact criminal attorney Mark Lowry immediately to help understand the criminal process and how to fight your charges. We offer affordable payment plans and 24 hour service 7 days a week.