I’m not a legal expert, so here’s my question:
If Zimmerman is charged with 2nd-degree murder, can a jury still decide to find him guilty of a lesser charge such as manslaughter?
(not an attorney either) I believe it has to be presented to the jury as an option at trial.
Yes, they can go down but not up.
If this guy pleads to M/S, he is a fool.
But, if manslaughter is on the list of charges, you can be not guilty for 2nd-degree murder, but guilty of manslaughter.
Prosecutors routinely overcharge for that very purpose - to allow the jury a “menu of choices” for their verdict. (2nd degree murder is the maximum that the jury can choose now.) The prosecutor has an ethical responsibility not to charge what she can’t prove. So she believes she can prove 2nd degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt. If/when Zimmerman asserts an affirmative defense under the Stand Your Ground law, the prosecution will fight it.
Yes they can return a verdict on a lesser included offense, but I don't expect that to be relevant to this case.
The case will turn entirely on whether Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force to defend himself.
The same justification is equally applicable as a defense to manslaughter as it is to second-degree murder.
It depends on the indictment document and Florida law. Generally manslaughter is a lesser and included offence , when intent ( mens rea) cannot be proven , but the act itself is proven.
This is a political show trial worthy of a communist state, not of the due process guranteed by the Constitution.
I doubt Zimmerman will be convicted , unless he has an incompetant defence lawyer. It will cost a LOT of money.
The burden of proof is pretty high in Florida. Just ask Casey Anthony.