After the public outcry and media attention garnered by way of the tragic shooting case of Trayvon Martin, 17, at the hands of 28-year-old George Zimmerman, much has been made of the formal charges that have been filed by prosecutor Angela Corey against the armed neighborhood watch volunteer.
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Experts from around the country, including former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, weighed in on the case and offered a varying opinion about the length of time Zimmerman can potentially face. News One takes a look at what steps were taken to charge Zimmerman, using reports from around the Web to form a solid basis.
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First, Corey had to file what’s known as an “information,” also known as a “formal criminal charge,” a document which lists the charges of second degree murder against Zimmerman. Following this step, the prosecution then moved to present the case to a judge in order to discover if there was probable cause. Like many other cases involving probable cause laws in the country, Florida rules simply state that the evidence presented shows there is “reasonable ground of suspicion” that an arrest can be made.
Shortly after charges were filed, Corey and her team moved to have Zimmerman arrested, as witnessed by the nation at her press conference Wednesday. From there, the process moves quickly as Zimmerman was granted a “first appearance,” where he will hear the formal charges; Zimmerman intends to plead “not guilty” to the charges. As news reports have shown, Zimmerman will be held with no bond set until his May 29 arraignment where he can formally make his plea.
According to Florida law, Zimmerman has a right to a pre-trail hearing which would determine if he is entitled immunity in the shooting by the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Zimmerman’s defense team must prove that the self-appointed night watchman acted in self-defense and within the realm of the law. If the judge sides with him, Corey’s team will file an appeal in a higher court. With the case just moving into the courts, it is far too soon to tell how much evidence will be gathered on either side. As the prosecution stated in their address to the media, Florida is a “full discovery” state, meaning that all evidence on both sides must be gathered and presented before the trial takes place.
If Zimmerman is charged and convicted, he faces the maximum penalty of a life sentence in jail with no parole. With this case being as public as it has been and the various media leaks, Zimmerman’s defense will look to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and seek to paint the watchman as a victim defending himself from harm instead of a cold-blooded murderer. Without much to go aside from speculative accounts from both Trayvon Martin’s attorney and the defense, it is too early to tell how the pendulum of fate swings for Zimmerman.
How do you see the trial going based on what has been presented so far? Will George Zimmerman be granted a fair trial?