The Criminal Law Section was organized in 1976-77 to provide a forum open to all Bar members who have a common interest in criminal law proceedings within the State of Florida; to provide a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas leading to the improvement of individual trial abilities in criminal law proceedings; to assist the courts in establishing methods for the more certain and expeditious administration of justice; and to advise and recommend to the Legislature substantive changes in the law. The Criminal Law Section governing body has an equal balance of representation between public defenders, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges and academics as well as geographical location throughout the state. It currently has over 2,600 members.
The Criminal Law Section presents four continuing legal education seminars each year, including its week-long Prosecutor/Public Defender Trial Training Program. Through this program, the section makes significant contributions to improving the effectiveness of assistants in the various offices throughout the state, and so directly affects the quality of attorney performance in the criminal justice system. In addition, the section also provides annual scholarships to attorneys allowing them to attend national seminars to further increase their knowledge and abilities.
The section advises the Supreme Court of Florida concerning modifications relating to standard jury instructions in the criminal area and fosters a high standard of ethical conduct on the part of all members of the profession who participate in the criminal justice system. It explores methods of improving the Florida penal system and methods to improve the manner of sentencing and studies and makes recommendations relating to alternatives to sentencing so as to improve the administration of justice. As changes in legislation occur, the section informs its members via newsletter and CLE programs, as to the status, new laws, new rules, rule changes, and procedures.