The George Zimmerman case may be over soon. The prosecution has rested their case, so now the defense may present evidence if they wish.
Normally in a criminal trial, the attorneys will invoke the “Rule of Sequestration” that prevents witnesses from being present in the court room when another witness is testifying. It also prevents the witnesses from talking to each other about the case once the rule is invoked. The purpose of the rule is to insure that each witness’ testimony is not influenced by what other witnesses say.
So why is Trayvon’s mother allowed to be in the courtroom and watch the proceedings and still testify against George Zimmerman? There is an exception to the rule. Florida Statute 90.616 “Exclusion of witnesses” states:
(2) A witness may not be excluded if the witness is:
(d) In a criminal case, the victim of the crime, the victim’s next of kin, the parent or guardian of a minor child victim, or a lawful representative of such person, unless, upon motion, the court determines such person’s presence to be prejudicial.
Also Article I, section 16(b) of the Florida Constitution provides:
Alleged victims of crime or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevant, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.
Because her son was a minor at the time of the alleged offense, she can remain in the court room during the entire proceeding. Davis v. State, 875 So.2d 359 (Fla. 2003).
The Rules of Evidence are extremely important in a criminal case. Call an experienced Polk criminal lawyer who knows the rules of evidence and will use them to take advantage of the facts in your case.
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