Bodiford Law Note: Offenses that are related may be tried together. The offenses must be connected – for example, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia (a pipe). You would not see a possession of cocaine charge and a worthless check charge be tried together. The idea is one of basic fairness. If the facts connect the crimes alleged, then the jury can consider all the facts and how they are interrelated with the connected charges. However, if the charges are based on separate facts, then it is not fair to the defendant have the jury decide them both at one time. Why? Because the jury may find guilt on one, but be on the fence about the other – but simply find guilt the second one because they think the defendant is bad guy. That is called a “prejudicial effect” and is prohibited by the Florida Evidence Code. There would have to be two separate trial for the two separate and unconnected cases.
Rule 3.151. Consolidation of Related Offenses
(a) Related Offenses. For purposes of these rules, 2 or more offenses are related offenses if they are triable in the same court and are based on the same act or transaction or on 2 or more connected acts or transactions.
(b) Consolidation of Indictments or Informations. Two or more indictments or informations charging related offenses shall be consolidated for trial on a timely motion by a defendant or by the state. The procedure thereafter shall be the same as if the prosecution were under a single indictment or information. Failure to timely move for consolidation constitutes a waiver of the right to consolidation.
(c) Dismissal of Related Offenses after Trial. When a defendant has been tried on a charge of 1 of 2 or more related offenses, the charge of every other related offense shall be dismissed on the defendant’s motion unless a motion by the defendant for consolidation of the charges has been previously denied, or unless the defendant has waived the right to consolidation, or unless the prosecution has been unable, by due diligence, to obtain sufficient evidence to warrant charging the other offense or offenses.
(d) Plea. A defendant may plead guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of 1 offense on the condition that other charges or related offenses be dismissed or that no charges of other related offenses be instituted. Should the court find that the condition cannot be fulfilled, the plea shall be considered withdrawn.