What's happens now that Zimmerman is charged in Trayvon Martin death?
April 11th, 2012
06:07 PM ET

What's happens now that Zimmerman is charged in Trayvon Martin death?

The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin shooting case has announced she has filed a charge of second-degree murder against George Zimmerman.

So, what did special prosecutor Angela Corey have to do legally to get here and what will happen next?

In Session's Beth Karas and Jessica Thrill break down the steps Corey took in order to file the charges and how the case will proceed from here.

STEP 1 – Now that Zimmerman is in custody, he has a “first appearance” before a judge

* Zimmerman had his first appearance at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
* First appearance hearings have to happen within 24 hours of someone’s arrest.
* The judge read the charges, so Zimmerman is clear about the crimes he is accused of.
* The judge addressed Zimmerman’s right to counsel. Zimmerman has hired Mark O’Mara.

STEP 2 – Zimmerman’s bond

* Second-degree murder is considered a “nonbondable” offense because the maximum penalty is life in prison.
* Both sides may have already agreed on a reasonable bond.
* But if they haven’t, then Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, can ask for an “Arthur hearing” in an attempt to get bond set.

  1. If O’Mara does ask for an “Arthur Hearing,” it could happen early next week.

* At the “Arthur hearing,” the burden is on the prosecutors to show that Zimmerman should not be given bond.

  1. To meet that burden, they will have to present evidence to support no bond.
  2. If the prosecutors fail to meet the burden, the judge will look at other factors to decide whether to set bond. Those factors include Zimmerman’s ties to the community, whether he’s a flight risk and whether he’s a danger to the community.

* This hearing is the opportunity for the defense to see the prosecution’s evidence against Zimmerman. So, we could get to hear some of the evidence that has not been disclosed.

STEP 3 – Arraignment

* The arraignment will likely happen within two to three weeks of the arrest.

* Zimmerman may or may not appear in open court for his arraignment.

  1. Often the defendant will waive the appearance at the actual court hearing and his attorney can enter a written plea of not guilty on his behalf.

* Zimmerman will be arraigned and must enter a plea on the charges, most likely “not guilty” (at this stage, defendants almost never plead guilty).

  1. In fact, O’Mara has already indicated that publicly.

STEP 4 – Defense files a motion to dismiss based on “stand your ground” law

* Zimmerman is entitled to a pretrial evidentiary hearing on whether he can use the stand your ground immunity.

* The burden at that hearing is on the defense to prove by “a preponderance of the evidence” (meaning it’s more likely than not) that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force.

  1. In Florida, an individual can use deadly force anywhere (with no duty to retreat) as long as he/she:

– is not engaged in an unlawful activity;

– is being attacked in a place he/she has a right to be; and

– reasonably believes that his/her life and safety is in danger.

* The judge decides whether Zimmerman’s actions were justified and therefore entitle him to the stand your ground immunity.

  1. If the judge finds the force was justifiable, then the charges are dismissed and Zimmerman is immune from further criminal prosecution and, possibly, civil liability.
  2. If the judge finds the force was not justifiable, then the charges against Zimmerman move forward (see steps 5 and 6 below)

* If the judge rules Zimmerman is immune, the prosecution can appeal that decision to a higher court.

STEP 5 – Pretrial

* Both the prosecution and defense could file a slew of pretrial motions in the case that deal with anything and everything from turning over documents and evidence to keeping certain evidence out at trial. It is too early to tell.

STEP 6 – Trial

* Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder.

  1. To convict someone of second-degree murder prosecutors have to prove several things beyond a reasonable doubt.

– First, that Trayvon Martin is dead.

– Second, that George Zimmerman’s criminal act caused Trayvon Martin’s death.

– Third, that Zimmerman knew his actions were reasonably certain to kill, that he committed the act with a depraved mind and the act itself was indifferent to human life.

NOTE: Prosecutors do not have to prove that Zimmerman intended to kill Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman could assert self-defense at trial, but the burden is on the prosecution to prove that it wasn’t self defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The jury will have to consider the circumstances surrounding the killing and decide whether it was second-degree murder or a justifiable use of deadly force.
  2. The jury could also look at lesser-included offenses. At some point during or after the trial, the attorneys will meet with the judge in what is called a “charging conference” to argue which legal instruction the judge will give the jurors. We will not know which lesser-included offenses will be given to the jury until then.

* It is too early to tell what lesser charges the evidence may support, but one possibility is manslaughter.

  1. To convict someone of manslaughter, prosecutors have to prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

– that Trayvon Martin is dead AND
– that Zimmerman’s acts caused Trayvon Martin’s death

NOTE: Manslaughter does not require that it be an intentional killing, only that the act that caused death was intentional and not justified or excusable.

  1. Zimmerman could assert self-defense at trial, but the burden is on the prosecution to prove that it wasn’t self defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
  2. The jury will have to consider the circumstances surrounding the killing and decide whether it was manslaughter or a justifiable use of deadly force.

NOTE: In the charging document, Corey alleges that Zimmerman killed Martin with a gun. That is important, because if the jury does convict Zimmerman of the lesser charge of manslaughter, using a gun increases the penalty that Zimmerman would face on a manslaughter conviction.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Zimmerman faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison without parole.

soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    April 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • black people are definately useless

      im copying and reposting what he said cause its the truth

      Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

      April 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • MO

      Obviously you are not educated. If you were you would know that WHITE people are on welfare at higher numbers than Black people. It's 2012 and you are still using these old excuses for you being a worthless poor white trash bigot. I wonder why people like you mothers did not visit the clinic and get rid of you. You are worth nothing..

      April 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean roberts

      what a crock of crap. everything you just said can be said about every race. you have to be a racist biget to say that crap. there are good and bad in every race. are you from the south and lived in the 50s? what does color mean anyway.

      April 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • the shushi king

      how does it feel to be living in the year 1812 inside your head.

      April 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. howieinbrissie

    I reckon that contributing to George Zimmerman's defense fund will be just payback for the stinking, apish, hood-wearing hoods from the hood that mugged me in Chicago. Hopefully more of them will get shot, since they are so primitive that they only seem to get the law of the jungle. Bernhard Goetz and George Zimmerman–an ideal presidential ticket!

    April 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • MO

      Well I recken howieinbrisse that they should have shot you when you got robbed. DAMN IDIOT.. Its 2012 the jungle monkey references are the dumbest thing to be still saying be cleaver use the little bit brain that you obviously have and come up with something new.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • howieinbrissie

      Too bad I didn't have a gun or the worthless trash would've both got it in the back–two less future prison inmates for the state to take care of. Thank God the Supreme Court sttruck down Chicago's ban on handguns. I'm sick of some minority's intimidation games!

      April 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unit34AHunter

      Give 'em a break, Mo. Yeah, he's got issues, but being mugged WILL do that to a person.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Black People are useless

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    REPOST THIS POST IF YOU AGREE

    April 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Unit34AHunter

    My general feeling is that none of us know what the evidence against Zimmerman will be. He may well be acquitted, and that will not satisfy those elements in the US for whom "due process" is less important than specific outcomes. As for Mr. Zimmerman, I think his lack of good judgement shows. It's called a "Neighborhood Watch" not a "Neighborhood Confrontation." It's fine to be armed. It's fine to be concerned. It's fine to watch and report. But if you don't want weird stuff to happen, it's prudent to let the police do the confronting unless the perp is breaking into your house.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • cathairallover

      I couldn't agree more!

      April 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dogluber

      No, he did not use good judgement. However, neither did the teenager. That is why this whole thing happened. If the teen attacked him and he truly felt his life was threatened, then it was self defense. Even if the whole thing was avoidable and tragic. Now, there has just developed a mob mentality amongst certain black groups. I'm wondering if they want to all dress in white sheets and drag Zimmerman off to the woods and linch him. It must be a sad day when you turn into a portrait of your worst enemy.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. I agree

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    April 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Unit34AHunter

      Jeepers, Captain Spamhater, we get it already. Now, please, and I make this request with the utmost sincerity, FOAD.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. I agree

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    April 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. udub

    Say that to any black mans face. You cowards

    April 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • MO

      AMEN!!! They wont.. cowardly people don't know how to do that..

      April 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unit34AHunter

      It's the same toe-rag posting the same spew repeatedly. One coward.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MO

    WOW... somebody needs a job.. too much time on their hands to be constantly posting the same thing?? Such a coward sitting behind a keyboard typing racist stuff.. Bet they wont say it to a Black persons face... SMDH..

    April 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. OrlandoCPA

    @MO

    Here are some statistics on food stamps. Blacks receive more according to this. And FYI – it's not about race – it's about POVERTY. Just happens that more blacks live in poverty.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/28/us/20091128-foodstamps.html

    April 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. I agree

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    Black People are useless

    Its a fact they ar useless criminals who clog our jails like the arteryon a fat guy the women pump out kids with no daddies to get more food stamps most end up prison or as drug addicts ITS A FACT PEOPLE WAKE UP these people ar conning yoou if the make you believe anything else. BLACK PEOPLE BE WARNED WHITE AMERICA ISNT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK

    April 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. udub

    you whites are scared and for good reason. Tell your wives and daughters to stay out the tanning booths. You all wanna be us. Look at history the billiard ALWAYS dies. I'm a wealthy black man and I love head from white women. That's what they're best at. Go give you wife and daughters a big kiss for me.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dan

    It is hard to believe all of the racist comments being made on this particular post. I would remind those bigots making the comments of this. While your white ancestors were still living in caves and painting stick men, people of color were flourishing in some of the greatest ancient civilizations that are known to the history of humanity.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Unit34AHunter

      No, actually, they weren't. But yeah, this thread has attracted some definite losers from the ranks of Cletus and Bubba.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Colored people are innocent

    the only innocent black people are dead ones

    April 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. udub

    Lets see white people murder their parents, they kill innocent kids in school shootings, they eat people, they blow themselves and their own kids to bits in custody disputes, and they bole up federal buildings like terriost. Ill take being on crack anyday. IM BLACH PROUD AND WE ARE IN CONTROL! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    April 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Drake

    I do not pretend to know if this guy guilty but it's obvious that charges were only brought after the outcry from the black community. Why, because the state is afraid of a riot. I doubt that the guy can get a fair trial after the media's hatchet job. So if by chance he is aquitted, get ready for a big riot. So I really doubt if the state will let that happen. They are probably fabricating evidence at this very moment.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • udub

      Well at lease it'd consistent we've never gotten a fair trial. Fair trial? What's that?

      April 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unit34AHunter

      I disagree that it is all that obvious. I was surprised that Zimmerman wasn't initially charged with manslaughter, even though I am an advocate of carry weapons and castle doctrine laws. A reasonable person might conclude that Zimmerman's behavior was likely to provoke a confrontation. It's "Neighborhood Watch" not "Neighborhood Confrontation." Any smart person would leave confrontation to the police when one is out and about.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.