DUI conviction of former Miami-Dade police officer reversed on appeal


On Appeal, the Circuit Court in and for Miami-Dade County reverses DUI conviction of former Miami-Dade Police Officer and remands a re-trial.

MIAMI – Dec. 31, 2015 — An appellate panel of three judges in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida reversed the Driving Under the Influence conviction of former Miami-Dade police officer, Fernando Villa, and remanded for retrial, finding that prosecutors made improper arguments during Villa’s trial in June 2014. Diaz Reus attorney Fausto Sanchez (pictured above) presented the successful oral argument for Mr. Villa’s appeal on Oct. 8, 2015.

At the center of the appeal was the Fifth Amendment guarantee that an accused has the right to remain silent and not be forced to present evidence at his criminal trial. Judge Ruiz, writing for the panel in its Dec. 8, 2015 opinion, stated, “Because we find merit in the defense’s arguments that the State shifted the burden and improperly commented on the Defendant’s pre-arrest silence, we reverse.”

Mr. Villa did not testify at trial, nor did his trial attorney present evidence or witnesses. And, although his attorney questioned witnesses about his medical condition, the defense never committed to presenting medical records to explain Mr. Villa’s condition on the date of his arrest. Yet, certain questions by the State at trial sought to draw the jury’s attention to the lack of evidence presented by Mr. Villa’s defense to justify his refusal to submit to testing.

“The Court’s decision speaks volumes. It is the burden of the prosecution, and only the prosecution, to present evidence and prove its case,” says Sanchez. “The prosecutors asked questions of one of their witnesses that implied to the jury that Mr. Villa had an obligation to provide medical records to prove up his defense. That implication was abjectly improper and as a result, the conviction that followed required reversal.”

About Fausto Sanchez

Fausto Sanchez is a bilingual litigation attorney, handling a wide variety of cases, including complex commercial litigation, international business transactions and white collar criminal defense. He is admitted to practice in the State Court of Florida and the Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida.

Prior to joining Diaz, Reus & Targ, Mr. Sanchez worked as an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, where he handled thousands of criminal cases, ranging from violent first-degree felonies to complex financial theft. In his three years as a prosecutor, Mr. Sanchez tried nearly 50 cases before jurors of Broward County, Florida, obtaining multiple convictions.

About Diaz Reus

Diaz Reus is a global law practice focused on national and transnational parallel proceedings in the following broad areas: sovereign, trade, commercial, finance, fraud, and civil litigation and arbitration; asset identification, location, tracing, and recovery; white collar crime, including regulatory and criminal investigations and defense of corruption, bribery, money laundering, FCPA, OFAC, SDN, and BSA; and politically sensitive investigations including the recovery of U.S. immigration status and visas. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, the firm has 14 offices worldwide, and has earned prestigious rankings and peer recognition from organizations including Chambers and Partners, Martindale-Hubbell, Best Lawyers, and Latinvex, among others. DiazReus.com.