When a defendant is charged with a crime, at trial the only evidence that should usually be put forward by the state is evidence related to those crimes charged. However, sometimes there are circumstances for the crimes alleged that require explanation. In some of those situations, the state will need to bring in evidence of other crimes that were committed in order to help the jury understand the circumstances in which the charged crimes were committed. This may seem confusing, and it can be, which is why you should consult an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you understand whether it is proper for collateral crimes evidence to be introduced during your trial.
An example may help make the concept of collateral crimes more understandable. In a case that was recently heard by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, a man appealed his conviction for attempted second-degree murder with a deadly weapon, witness tampering, and criminal mischief. One of the errors he alleges is that the court impermissibly admitted evidence of a collateral armed robbery allegedly committed earlier in the day by the defendant.
The prosecution alleges that the defendant went to the home of his ex-girlfriend a few hours before the incident that the charges came from. He is alleged to have held her up at gunpoint and demanded her phone from her. The defendant returned to her house with her phone a few hours later, and then began shooting. The attempted murder and other charges that he was convicted of all stem from this shooting.