Some criminal defenses are the stuff of movies. Temporary or outright mental incapacity is one of those types of defenses. Make no mistake though, there are circumstances where the mental state of the accused fits squarely within the use of these defenses as envisioned by legislators when enacted.
Right here in Florida, in the case of Freddie Hall a challenge to a sentence of death relies exactly upon a claim of diminished mental capacity. Freddie Hall was sentenced to die in 1982 for the murder of Karol Hurst. Since his conviction, Freddie has repeatedly challenged the sentence and claimed he lacks the mental capacity to understand his actions. The lawyers argued that putting a mentally incapacitated person to death violates the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Florida Supreme Court will likely rule on the case in the summer of 2014. When reaching a decision, the Court will consider:
. The use of expert medical testimony and information in a legal setting.
● The need for a uniform standard for measuring mental capacity among the states.
● Determining the level of mental ability within the setting of a capital (death penalty) punishment case.
● How to strike a balance between the prosecution and defense definitions of mental incapacity.
Defense lawyers across the State, and even the Country are watching this case with interest. Depending on how the Florida Supreme Court rules, the standards by which criminally insane defendants are declared incompetent could change. And for Freddie Hall, it may mean a decades long fight has finally come to its end. The lawyers at the Ferraro Law Group take a keen interest in the ever changing landscape of criminal defense law, and stay on top of the latest developments so the rules are applied to your case properly.
If you believe you are the victim of misapplication of a criminal law, call a criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast for more information. Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation. We fight for your rights and for the proper application of law to the facts.