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Franklin v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

June 26, 2019

LEWIS DARREN FRANKLIN, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Glenn Kelley, Judge; L.T. Case No. 502017CF001725AXXX-MB.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Timothy Wang, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Ashley B. Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Alexandra A. Folley, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          Forst, J.

         Appellant, Lewis Franklin, appeals his convictions and ten-year sentence for fleeing or attempting to elude causing serious bodily injury; leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury; resisting an officer without violence; leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage; and driving while license suspended. We write only to address Appellant's challenge to Florida Standard Jury Instruction (Criminal) 3.6(k)6., as applied to his affirmative defense of duress. On that argument and all others raised, we affirm.

         Background

         The State presented the following evidence at trial. A Riviera Beach police officer saw Appellant's vehicle fail to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. The officer activated her lights and siren, and the vehicle pulled over but did not stop; it then returned to the road. A pursuit ensued, during which Appellant's car reached 70 miles per hour ("mph") in a 25 mph speed zone. Appellant drove through five stop signs until "t-boning" another car in an intersection and then veering off the road and crashing into a Popeye's restaurant.

         Immediately after the crash, Appellant climbed out of the driver's side window and ran across the street, running into a police car as he fled. Appellant kept running away from the accident scene as uniformed officers told him to stop. Appellant did not stop until an officer "tased" him. The driver of the car that was hit by Appellant's vehicle was transported away in a coma. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and is now disabled.

         The State's theory of the case was that Appellant fled because he was on probation and driving on a suspended license. Appellant's theory of defense was that he acted out of duress. He testified that his front seat passenger, who he knew only as "Black," compelled him to flee at gunpoint. He claimed to have fled the scene after the crash because Black was still pointing a gun at him.

         Appellant's son, the son's fiancée, and another woman were in the backseat. The fiancée testified that Black said he had guns, but admitted she failed to so inform the police when questioned after the crash. The State submitted police dash-cam video which shows that the backseat passengers were much slower to exit the SUV than Appellant and they did not flee. An individual matching Appellant's description of Black was seen running from Appellant's vehicle. He was never located by police.

         During the charge conference, defense counsel affirmatively agreed to the standard jury instruction on duress, requesting only one additional sentence (italicized below). The trial court so instructed the jury on duress as follows:

An issue in this case is whether LEWIS DARREN FRANKLIN acted out of duress in committing the crimes of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude (Serious Injury or Death) and/or Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Serious Bodily Injury and/or Resisting Officer Without Violence and/or Leaving the Scene of a Crash with Damage.
It is a defense to the crimes charged if the defendant acted out of duress. The defense of duress should be considered for each of these charged crimes independently. In order to find the defendant committed the charged crimes out ...

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