Crime

After Zimmerman’s arrest, what happens next in Trayvon Martin case?

George Zimmerman faces a charge of second-degree murder with a firearm, a first-degree felony punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison and up to life behind bars. The charge is a non-bondable offense, which means Zimmerman does not have the immediate right to post bail.

He will be booked into a Seminole County jail and should appear Thursday in court for a first hearing and arraignment.

Zimmerman will certainly plead not guilty and his defense attorney has said he will ask that his client be allowed to post bond and be released from custody.

Within 15 days, prosecutors must start providing Zimmerman’s defense attorney with “discovery,” the first witness statements, police reports and photos that will be used as evidence against him. Most of the evidence will be released to the public and media, although the substance of any of his confessions can be withheld before trial.

Once all the evidence has been provided to Zimmerman’s defense team, his lawyer can file a motion for immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law. A judge must hold an evidentiary hearing and decide by a “preponderance of the evidence” whether Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.

If a judge denies his motion for immunity, a date will be set for a trial in front of a jury. Zimmerman’s defense attorney could also ask for a “change of venue,” meaning he could be tried in a different county in Florida if a judge deems pretrial publicity has been so overwhelming that it is impossible for the defendant to get a fair trial.

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