While ignorance of the law is generally not a valid defense, in many criminal matters, the State must nonetheless prove that the defendant meant to engage in criminal activity. Thus, if the State cannot establish intent beyond a reasonable doubt, it may be grounds for a non-guilty verdict or reversal of a conviction. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the defendant’s conviction for driving with a suspended license was reversed due to the State’s failure to prove he knowingly committed a crime. If you are charged with driving with a suspended license or any other offense, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to assess your rights.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer, after which he was charged with driving with a suspended license and possessing marijuana in excess of 20 grams. Prior to trial, he moved for acquittal, but his motion was denied. Following the trial, he was found guilty as charged. He appealed his conviction for driving with a suspended license, arguing that the State failed to meet its burden of proof. Upon review, the appellate court agreed, reversing his conviction.
Proving the Offense of Driving with a Suspended License
Under Florida Statutes section 322.34(2), it is a crime for a person to drive with a suspended license. To convict a person of this offense, the State must establish each element as set forth under the law. Specifically, it must show that the defendant’s driver’s license was suspended at the time the crime was allegedly committed and that the defendant knew his or her license was suspended but drove a vehicle regardless.