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Broward County, Florida Defendant Wins Appeal for Trespass Conviction

Broward County, Florida defendant, Kenneth Ruiz, was charged with second degree attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, resisting with violence, and trespass in a structure or conveyance. The charges stemmed from an incident that was alleged to have taken place at Giorgio’s nightclub, where Ruiz celebrated his birthday with friends.

At the end of the night, Ruiz and his friends were ordered to leave the club, because it was closing, by a police officer who was working an off-duty detail at the club. After some back and forth, Ruiz and his friends left the club, but remained in the parking lot “partaking in disruptive behavior.”

When the off-duty police officer went to arrest Ruiz, a fight ensued.

Ultimately however, Ruiz was acquitted of all charges, except for the trespass. At trial, his defense lawyer moved for a judgment of acquittal, stating that no reasonable jury could have found Ruiz guilty of trespass because the parking lot was “open-air” and not enclosed by any kind of structure.

Relying on the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamilton v. State, 660 So.2d 1038 (Fla. 1995), the Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that Ruiz’s conviction must be reversed because a trespass conviction cannot be sustained in the absence of some form of an enclosure that would make the parking lot come under the “curtilage” of the night club.

Since there was no factual question about the lack of an enclosure, the appeals court reversed Ruiz’s conviction.

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