Bogart v. State (Fla. 4th DCA May 15, 2013): Defendant convicted of second-degree murder, a violation of Fla.Stat. 782.04(2). At close of the evidence, Defendant made a motion for judgment of acquittal under Rule 3.800. His argument was that the State failed to prove the elements of the crime, and that the State did not make any showing of proof that he did not act in self-defense.
The facts are that he choked his girl-friend to death. He admitted that his hands moved down from the victim’s face to her neck and that he was choking her. He also admitted to a friend and an investigating detective that he killed the victim — he knew she was dead when he left her body. He made statements about having been in a fight with her. He also sold her phone and concealed the body, and did not call 911 or the police after the alleged “fight”.
HELD: The Florida criminal appeals court found that all of those things were evidence of act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual (as required by the murder statute). The court found that the evidence was sufficient to rebut appellant’s reasonable hypothesis of innocence, and the jury was free to weigh the evidence. Additionally, as the state proffered evidence inconsistent with appellant’s self-defense theory, the court properly denied the motion for judgment of acquittal.
COMMENTARY: As Rule 3.800 is designed to stop a prosecution where there is utterly no evidence that a defendant commits a crime, then any evidence supporting the State’s case will result in the motion being denied. Another way to look at it, is if there are NO facts, then the 3.800 motion for judgment of acquittal will be denied. If there are ANY facts – even if they are tenuous and/or in dispute – then those facts are for the jury to resolve. Rule 3.800 motions are rarely granted, as generally, a case without any proof will have been subject to a pre-trial motion to dismiss under Rule 3.190(c)(4).