A Broward County jury returned a verdict in the trial of a 17-year old boy accused of being the mastermind behind an attack on a classmate. The alleged victim, who was 15 at the time, was set on fire by two other boys who allegedly carried out the attack upon the orders of the accused.
The 17-year old accused had been charged with one count of attempted second-degree murder, which could have carried a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.
Exercising their discretion as a jury, the 6 men and women opted to convict the accused of a lesser-included offense.
The jury voted to convict the 17-year old of aggravated battery, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
A jury is given broad discretion in the decision that they make. A jury may convict a person as charged, find a person guilty of a lesser-included offense, or may find a person not guilty.
If there are multiple counts, the jury can exercise the same discretion.
Lesser-included offenses are charges that are given to the jury as options, should they find that the accused is guilty of some crime, but not guilty of the highest charge they face.
The elements of a lesser-included offense must be proven beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt. A jury will receive instructions on every lesser-included offense so that they may apply the evidence to each charge. A jury is supposed to convict of the highest charge proven. If no charges are proven beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt, a jury must find the accused not guilty.