Fields v. State, No. 5D07-1303.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtOrfinger
Citation988 So.2d 1185
PartiesMark A. FIELDS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date08 August 2008
Docket NumberNo. 5D07-1303.
988 So.2d 1185
Mark A. FIELDS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, Appellee.
No. 5D07-1303.
District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.
August 8, 2008.

[988 So.2d 1186]

James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Robert E. Wildridge, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

Bill McCollum, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Brigid E. Collins, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

ORFINGER, J.


Mark A. Fields appeals his convictions of burglary with a firearm with a battery, aggravated assault with a firearm, and criminal mischief. Fields argues that the trial court erred by (1) instructing the jury that he was required to prove his claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, and (2) denying his motion for new trial in light of newly-discovered evidence. We agree that the self-defense instruction was fundamentally flawed and reverse. As a result, we need not address the second issue.

Fields was charged by amended information with one count of burglary of a structure with a firearm with a battery, two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, and one count of criminal mischief,

988 So.2d 1187

following a fight. He was tried jointly with co-defendant Alvin Conrad.1

At trial, the State offered witnesses who testified that on the evening in question, Fields and Conrad were patrons at Jesse Black's Saloon. Fields, who was described as drunk and rowdy, hurled some insults at a woman and was told by a bouncer, Ben Desormo, to apologize. Apparently upset by the treatment that Fields was receiving, Conrad took a swing at Desormo, known to his friends as "Big Ben," as he is six foot six inches tall and weighs close to three hundred pounds. Desormo struck back, knocking Conrad to the floor with one or two punches. Fields and Conrad were then escorted to the door and told to leave. They left the bar, went to Fields's truck and retrieved a shotgun. They then reentered the bar with Fields yelling, "Where's the big guy?" Conrad struck three individuals while Fields held the shotgun. Fields then used the shotgun to smash the cash register, causing the shotgun to break. Several patrons and staff members then attacked and beat Fields and Conrad, holding them until the police arrived.

Not surprisingly, Fields's version of events differed markedly. Fields testified that the incident started when Desormo knocked Conrad off a bar stool. Desormo then struck Fields, knocking him unconscious. When Fields regained consciousness, he saw Conrad on the floor being punched by four or five people. Fields then ran to his truck, retrieved his shotgun, and returned to the bar to defend Conrad. Fields testified that he was again knocked unconscious when someone hit him in the back of the head. The next thing that Fields remembered was being told by a police officer that he was under arrest. Another witness corroborated Fields's version of events. Conrad did not testify.

As to Fields's claim of self-defense, in relevant part, the trial court instructed the jury without objection:

An issue in this case is whether the defendant acted in self-defense. It is a defense to Counts 1, 2, and 3 of the charges with which Mark Anthony Fields is charged if the injury to William Giddens or Billy Mahler or Brian Clamon or others resulted from the justifiable use of nondeadly force.

Nondeadly force means force not likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

Mark Anthony Fields would be justified in using nondeadly force against William Giddens or Billy Mahler or Brian Clamon or others if the following two facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt: Number one, Mark Anthony Fields must have reasonably believed that such conduct was necessary to defend himself or Alvin Daniel Conrad against William Giddens or Billy Mahler or Brian Clamon or others' imminent use of unlawful force against Mark Anthony Fields or Alvin Daniel Conrad.

Number two, the use of unlawful force by William Giddens or Billy Mahler or Billy [sic] Clamon or others must have appeared to Mark Anthony Fields to be ready to take place.

. . . .

If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense, you have a reasonable

988 So.2d 1188

doubt on the question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of nondeadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty. However, if from the evidence you are convinced that the defendant was not justified in the use of nondeadly force, then you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proven.

The jury found Fields guilty of burglary with a firearm with a battery, guilty of one count of aggravated assault with a firearm, not guilty of one count of aggravated assault with a firearm, and guilty of criminal mischief.

Fields contends that the trial court's jury instruction on self-defense was error, as it misstated the burden of proof. Fields acknowledges that he did not properly preserve this issue for appellate review but argues the instructional error was fundamental. "For an issue to be preserved for appeal, ... it `must be presented to the lower court and the specific legal argument or ground to be argued on appeal must be part of that presentation if it is to be considered preserved.'" Archer v. State, 613 So.2d 446, 448 (Fla.1993) (quoting Tillman v. State, 471 So.2d 32, 35 (Fla.1985)). "Absent a timely objection at trial, an issue concerning jury instructions can be raised on appeal only if fundamental error occurred." Hadnot v. State, 956 So.2d 1206, 1208 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).

When the defense of self-defense is asserted, a defendant has the burden of producing enough evidence to establish a prima facie case demonstrating...

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16 practice notes
  • Mohammed v. State, Case No. 5D19-1341
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 11, 2020
    ...of fundamental error depends on whether the trial court issued an incorrect instruction or issued no instruction. Fields v. State , 988 So. 2d 1185, 1189 n.4 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008). If the trial court issues an incorrect defense instruction, "fundamental error only occurs where the instru......
  • Jackson v. State, No. 5D14–1400.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 13, 2015
    ...v. State, 98 So.3d 80, 81 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) (citing Montijo v. State, 61 So.3d 424, 427 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011) ); Fields v. State, 988 So.2d 1185, 1190 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) ; Novak v. State, 974 So.2d 520, 522 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) ; Murray v. State, 937 So.2d 277, 282 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006). As s......
  • Briner v. Sec'y, Case No: 6:15-cv-1117-Orl-40TBS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 25, 2018
    ...where the state had the greater burden of showing beyond a reasonable doubt that Briner did not act in self-defense. Fields v. State, 988 So. 2d 1185, 1186 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008); see also Jury Instruction, T. at 1276 ("If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense, you have a rea......
  • McCullen v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., Case No. 8:16-cv-2092-T-02JSS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • July 12, 2019
    ...Rebutting a prima facie showing of self-defense is a part of the State's burden of proof to obtain a conviction. See Fields v. State, 988 So.2d 1185, 1188 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) ("The burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, including the burden of proving that a defendant did n......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Mohammed v. State, Case No. 5D19-1341
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 11, 2020
    ...of fundamental error depends on whether the trial court issued an incorrect instruction or issued no instruction. Fields v. State , 988 So. 2d 1185, 1189 n.4 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008). If the trial court issues an incorrect defense instruction, "fundamental error only occurs where the instruction......
  • Briner v. Sec'y, Case No: 6:15-cv-1117-Orl-40TBS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 25, 2018
    ...where the state had the greater burden of showing beyond a reasonable doubt that Briner did not act in self-defense. Fields v. State, 988 So. 2d 1185, 1186 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008); see also Jury Instruction, T. at 1276 ("If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense, you have a reasonab......
  • Jackson v. State, No. 5D14–1400.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 13, 2015
    ...v. State, 98 So.3d 80, 81 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) (citing Montijo v. State, 61 So.3d 424, 427 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011) ); Fields v. State, 988 So.2d 1185, 1190 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) ; Novak v. State, 974 So.2d 520, 522 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) ; Murray v. State, 937 So.2d 277, 282 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006). As s......
  • McCullen v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., Case No. 8:16-cv-2092-T-02JSS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • July 12, 2019
    ...Rebutting a prima facie showing of self-defense is a part of the State's burden of proof to obtain a conviction. See Fields v. State, 988 So.2d 1185, 1188 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) ("The burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, including the burden of proving that a defendant did not ac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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