In April of 2010, Andrea Zampatti was involved in a road rage incident that resulted in injury to several individuals. She was convicted in 2013 of 14 felony charges by Judge Edward Hedstrom in a St. Johns County circuit court, and sentenced by the judge to 33 years in prison.
Zampatti was convicted by the judge on charges of aggravated attempt to elude with serious injury, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and more. Zampatti is getting a new trial after the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled that she was not able to make an informed decision when she gave up her right to a trial before a jury in 2013.
A report issued by the Florida Highway Patrol in 2010 states that Zampatti was driving in Ponte Vedra Beach on State Road A1A when she struck a bicyclist, a truck with two occupants, a deputy’s car, a driver of a scooter, and a Chevrolet Lumina. Zampatti’s defense attorney used an insanity defense, however the judge ruled against it.
An appeals court judge wrote in the ruling that the benefits of having a jury trial were not explained to Zampatti at the time. The appeals court said there is nothing on record that indicated that Zampatti was aware she could demand a jury trial when her defense lawyer desired a non-jury trial. Ultimately, Senior Judge Charles Harris concluded “having knowledge that your attorney asked for a non-jury trial is not the same as ‘knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently’ waiving you rights to a jury trial.” On Friday, May 23, Zampatti won an appeal for a new trial. John Trevena, her defense attorney, said that a plea agreement may be negotiated with the state, or the case could go before a jury.
Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know how difficult it is to win an appeal, whether appealing a conviction or sentence.
Many individuals who are found guilty of crimes are not aware that they may have other options. A person may be sentenced to 10 years in prison for a sex crime, life for murder, or any number of years for a drug offense. Regardless of the situation, defendants have a right to appeal a conviction or sentence when there are strong facts or legitimate reasons that support it. In this instance, it appears that the defendant was not made aware that she could insist on a jury trial, and the benefits of that type of trial versus a non-jury trial.