Regardless of whether you are a proponent of Florida's controversial stand your ground law or not, you should read the Information and Arrest Affidavit filed in State v. Michael Drejka Pinellas County, Florida case, charging one count of manslaughter, with the aggravating factor, use of a firearm during commission of a felony. The State has an enormous advantage on day 1.
This investigation and prosecution was well thought out in advance. Pinellas County Detective George Moffett has effectively annihilated Florida's controversial stand your ground laws from serious consideration in Michael Drejka's defense case, notwithstanding that Drejka will endeavor to use them.
Take a few moments, read the documents and you be the judge for yourself.
Commentary from the Author:
Drejka Strike #1:
Noteworthy from Detective George Moffett's investigation of Michael Drejka are three (3) prior bad acts in Florida involving improper display of a firearm and/or threat with a firearm. The Pinellas County State Attorney's Office is undoubtedly laying the ground work for a Williams Rule Motion to be filed in this case, e.g. improper motive of Drejka to kill somebody in advance of this homicide. The Williams Rule Motion will seek to enter evidence of prior bad acts of Drejka involving firearms and threats that pre-dates this incident. This type of evidence is generally devastating to a defense case to the extent the Judge lets the evidence into trial.
Drejka Strike #2:
Additionally, Drejka is charged with manslaughter, with use of a firearm during commission of a felony, which reclassifies manslaughter from a first degree felony to a life felony, pursuant to Florida Statutes 775.087(1)(a), to wit:
775.087 Possession or use of weapon; aggravated battery; felony reclassification; minimum sentence.—
(1) Unless otherwise provided by law, whenever a person is charged with a felony, except a felony in which the use of a weapon or firearm is an essential element, and during the commission of such felony the defendant carries, displays, uses, threatens to use, or attempts to use any weapon or firearm, or during the commission of such felony the defendant commits an aggravated battery, the felony for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as follows:
(a) In the case of a felony of the first degree, to a life felony. Id.
So the hammer here is that the State only needs to prove a manslaughter and Drejka is facing up to life in prison. Many are wondering why Drejka was not charged with murder-the answer is because manslaughter is easier for the State to prove. In fact, all of the elements that the State needs to prove are depicted on videotape already.
Drejka Strike #3:
Drejka will undoubtedly use a Stand Your Ground defense, however, Drejka's acts must first be deemed 'objectively reasonable', which may be a tough nut for Drejka to crack looking at the initial facts as presented in Detective Moffett's Affidavit, coupled with the convenience store videotape.
Early indications are that the Pinellas County State Attorney's Office is in a position of power on day 1 of the Drejka prosecution, which an enormous hammer going into the case. Drejka on the other hand has an uphill battle trying to convince the Court or a Jury that his actions were objectively reasonable under the facts presented.
This case has already drawn national attention and will invariable draw international attention in the days and months to come.
The Author does not see the Michael Drejka case as a challenge to Florida's stand your ground laws, as there are checks and balances within those laws that Drejka must first overcome, before Drejka can get the benefit of immunity from prosecution. That first hurdle may prove to be a difficult hurdle for Drejka indeed.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as constituting legal advice. It is intended to provoke critical thinking related to the issues presented. The opinions rendered are the opinions of the Author, a non attorney. Nothing presented in this Article should be interpreted as legal advice as any such interpretation is unintended. In fact it is not legal advice and was written by a non-attorney. You should consult with your attorney to determine the best course of action to take on your case.
Copyright 2018 All Right Reserved, by Joseph J. Pappacoda, JD, Senior Litigation Paralegal, GhostWriter Paralegal, Chartered, Fort Lauderdale, Florida