State ex rel. Hardy v. Blount, s. 41427--41431

Decision Date05 April 1972
Docket NumberNos. 41427--41431,s. 41427--41431
Citation261 So.2d 172
PartiesSTATE of Florida ex rel. Inga Susan HARDY and Terry Neal Hardy, Petitioners, v. Uriel BLOUNT, Jr., Respondent. STATE of Florida ex rel. James BROWNING, Petitioner, v. Uriel BLOUNT, Jr., Respondent. STATE of Florida ex rel. Bruce HAYES, Petitioner, v. Uriel BLOUNT, Jr., Respondent. STATE of Florida ex rel. Wayne A. BRYANT, Petitioner, v. Uriel BLOUNT, Jr., Respondent. STATE of Florida ex rel. Donald Arthur HALES, Petitioner, v. Uriel BLOUNT, Jr., Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Dan R. Warren, of Judge & Warren, Daytona Beach, for petitioners.

Robert L. Shevin, Atty. Gen., and Reeves Bowen, Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondent.

ADKINS, Justice.

By petition for certiorari, we have for review a decision of the District Court of Appeal, First District, in these cases, (250 So.2d 657), which allegedly conflicts with a prior decision of the District Court of Appeal, Fourth District (State ex rel. Shailer v. Booher, 241 So.2d 720) on the same point of law. Fla.Const., art. V, § 4, F.S.A.

The petitioner is each of the cases Sub judice was charged by information with the commission of a felony. No one had been held in custody for thirty days at the time the respondent Judge denied motions for preliminary hearings. In original mandamus proceeding, the District Court of Appeal, First District (250 So.2d 657) held that petitioners were not entitled to preliminary hearings because an information charging each with the commission of a felony had been filed.

In State ex rel. Shailer v. Booher, Supra, the state attorney had filed an information charging a felony and thereafter the defendant was denied a preliminary hearing. The trial judge entered a peremptory writ in habeas corpus proceeding directing the sheriff to have the defendant before a committing magistrate on a day certain, or, in the alternative, to release him from custody. No appeal was taken, but the state attorney filed a petition for writ of prohibition in the District Court of Appeal, Fourth District. The District Court of Appeal held that prohibition proceedings were improper, but in denying the petition for writ of prohibition said, by way of dictum:

'The underlying issue in this case is whether or not a person arrested after an information has been filed against him has a right to a preliminary hearing, and if so, how may that right be enforced when the same is not voluntarily accorded to the arrested person.' (241 So.2d p. 722)

'In our opinion, until some other means is provided either by the Florida Supreme Court through its rule-making power or by the legislature of the State of Florida, one who has a right to a preliminary hearing which is not voluntarily accorded to him as contemplated by the statutes of this State (F.S.1969, section 901.06 and section 901.23, F.S.1969) should apply to an appropriate court for a writ of mandamus.' (p. 723)

There is conflict and we have jurisdiction.

A preliminary hearing is for the purpose of determining if probable cause exists to hold one accused of a crime for trial. The whole proceedings partake of the nature of an inquiry and, outside of being conducted by a magistrate, bears little or no resemblance to a trial. See 6 F.L.P., Criminal Law, § 204, and cases cited.

In Anderson v. State, 241 So.2d 390 (Fla.1970), we said:

'A preliminary hearing is for the purpose of determining if probable cause exists to hold one accused of a crime for trial. Such a hearing is not a critical stage in the proceedings, Harris v. State, 208 So.2d 108 (Fla.App. 1, 1968), unless prejudice results to the defendant in some subsequent proceedings, or under the circumstances of the case the preliminary hearing was a critical stage in the proceeding. Abbott v. State, 164 So.2d 243 (Fla.App.2d, 1964). It is not a prerequisite to a criminal prosecution or the filing of an indictment or information. Sangaree v. Hamlin, Fla., 235 So.2d 729 (opinion filed May 13, 1970).' (pp. 392--393)

The state attorney is a constitutional officer (Fla.Const., art. V, § 6(6) F.S.A.) and is authorized by the Constitution to initiate criminal prosecutions for felonies by filing an information under oath. Fla.Const., art. I, (Declaration of Rights), § 15(a), F.S.A. This constitutional provision granted the grand jury and the prosecuting attorney concurrent authority to file a formal accusation of the commission of a felony not involving capital punishment by indictment or information, respectively. In fact, the prosecuting officer having jurisdiction is authorized to file an information even though the grand jury may have failed or refused to find an indictment. State ex rel. Latour v. Stone, 135 Fla. 816, 185 So. 729, 120 A.L.R. 711 (1939).

When a prosecuting attorney files an information against a defendant, he conclusively determines that the evidence is adequate to establish probable cause to put the defendant on trial. In Prevatt v. State, 135 Fla. 226, 184 So. 860 (1938), we said:

'While it is true that an information is required to have attached the affidavit by the County Solicitor 'that the allegations as set forth in the foregoing information are based upon facts that have been sworn to as true, and which, if true, would constitute the offense therein charged', and the law requires that the information be based...

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19 cases
  • Gerstein v. Pugh 8212 477
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 25, 1974
    ...courts had held that the filling of an information foreclosed the suspect's right to a preliminary hearing. See State ex rel. Hardy v. Blount, 261 So.2d 172 (Fla.1972).2 They had also held that habeas corpus could not be used, except perhaps in exceptional circumstances, to test the probabl......
  • Ierardi, In re
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • January 17, 1975
    ...information alone is considered the equivalent of an indictment and sufficient itself to establish probable cause. State ex rel. Hardy v. Blount, 261 So.2d 172, 174 (Fla.1972). 1 See Corkern v. State, 269 So.2d 630, 632 (Miss.1972); Salvail v. Sharkey, 108 R.I. 63, 68--69, 271 A.2d 814 (197......
  • Johnson v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • July 5, 2007
    ...729 (Fla.1982). However, the grand jury and state attorney have concurrent authority to charge noncapital crimes. State ex rel. Hardy v. Blount, 261 So.2d 172, 174 (Fla.1972). Even when the grand jury has declined to charge an offense by indictment, the state attorney may charge the same of......
  • Colonial Stores, Inc. v. Scarbrough
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • December 8, 1977
    ...in a malicious prosecution suit, on the issue of liability. The McKinney court relied upon this Court's decision in State ex rel. Hardy v. Blount, 261 So.2d 172 (Fla.1972), which held that the finding of probable cause by a state attorney, evinced by the filing of an information, has the sa......
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