Can the state continue charges if the witness lied?

My friend is in jail with attempted assault because his girlfriend and him were arguing so her and her friends said he shot a gun off when it was actually someone else and there are witnesses because he told people he actually did it and that he pointed a gun in their face. She is recanting her statement now and stated that she lied and that ‘he shouldn’t do time just because we were fighting’. I just want to know if the state can take him to trial still or if he’ll do time for something that wasn’t his fault.

Asked on March 12, 2019 under Criminal Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It depends on three things:
1) Is there physical or forensic evidence that he shot a gun, like gunpowder residue on his hands? A spent bullet casing? Etc. This could make the need for witnesse testimony secondary.
2) You say her friends, so other witnesses, also claimed that he shot the gun. Are they still claiming that? If there are, say, 3 witnesses who claimed that he shot the gun and one is recanting now, but that one has a personal reason to recant, the testimony of the other witnesses could easily carry the day.
3) The way she is recanting now, is it credible? Or does it seem that she is recanting because of love, or out of a fear of being alone, or perhaps out of a fear of him? If her original statement was more credible than her current one, while both would be introduced in trial, the court could credit her original statement more.
So, in short it depends on how much evidence there still is of the crime.

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