Articles Posted in Evidence

Although white-collar crimes are not implicitly violent, they are often harshly penalized due to the financial losses they frequently cause. It is not uncommon for convictions for such offenses to result in years of imprisonment, as demonstrated in a recent Florida Medicaid theft case in which the court ultimately rejected the defendant’s challenge to his sentence. If you are accused of theft, it is prudent to talk to a Sarasota theft crime defense lawyer about your options for seeking a positive outcome.


History of the Case


Allegedly, the defendant worked for a company that provided medical billing and credentialing services, giving him access to financial, medical provider, and patient information. He was tasked with submitting claims to Florida Medicaid for services rendered by a specific physician. Between February 2017 and October 2018, the defendant allegedly submitted around 1,700 fraudulent claims, resulting in a payment of over $2.25 million. The defendant did not report or underreported these fraudulent earnings to the IRS, leading to a total tax loss of close to $800,000 over the tax years 2017-2019. Additionally, from April 2019 to September 2019, the defendant worked for another company, diverting over $55,000 into his personal account and underreporting this income on his 2019 tax return.


It is reported that the defendant was charged with and pleaded guilty to multiple counts of defrauding a healthcare benefits program, aggravated identity theft, and failing to file an income tax return, as well as a count of filing a fraudulent tax return. A presentence investigation report grouped his offenses into two main categories: healthcare fraud and tax offenses, with separate adjustments for each group’s offense level. The district court sentenced the defendant to a total of 65 months’ imprisonment, with a three-year term of supervised release and a set of standard conditions for supervised release, including Standard Condition 12, which the defendant did not object to initially. The defendant then appealed his sentence.

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People sentenced to supervised release in federal cases must comply with the terms of their release; otherwise, their release may be revoked. As demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a Florida case, the state’s burden of proof in revocation hearings is lower than in criminal trials, and the federal rules of evidence regarding hearsay do not necessarily apply. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation, it is smart to consult a Sarasota probation violation defense attorney about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the lower court revoked the defendant’s supervised release after determining that he violated the conditions of his release by committing the offense of simple battery. During the hearing, the government introduced evidence in the form of a text message exchanged between the victim and her 16-year-old daughter via the testimony of M.M.’s mother, Reyna Morales. The defendant objected to the admission of the text message, asserting that it violated his right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses. The court overruled his rejection. After his supervised release was revoked, he appealed.

Grounds for Revoking Supervised Release

On appeal, the defendant argued that the lower court violated his due process rights by admitting a text message containing hearsay at his revocation hearing. The court disagreed, affirming the lower court ruling. The court explained that supervised release could be revoked if the district court found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant violated a condition of supervised release. The court noted that the preponderance of the evidence standard requires the trier of fact to believe that the existence of a fact was more probable than its nonexistence.

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The right to a speedy trial is a cornerstone of the American criminal justice system, as it ensures that defendants are not subject to unnecessary delays in the legal process. If a criminal defendant found guilty of a crime believes that their right to a speedy trial was violated, they might be able to successfully argue that their conviction should be vacated. As illustrated in a recent Florida ruling delivered in a drug crime case, however, it can be challenging to demonstrate that delays in criminal proceedings are unjust and unreasonable. If you are charged with a drug-related offense, it is smart to talk to a Sarasota drug crime criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a controlled substance. He was convicted and sentenced to 235 months in prison. He appealed on numerous grounds, including the assertion that the trial court violated his right to a speedy trial.

The Right to a Speedy Trial in Criminal Matters

After careful analysis, the court found that the defendant’s right to a speedy trial was not violated and upheld his conviction. The court explained that the Speedy Trial Act establishes guidelines for expediting criminal trials while allowing for justifiable delays. The Act excludes certain periods of delay stemming from proceedings involving the defendant, including delays caused by pretrial motions from filing through disposition.

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In federal criminal trials, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution can rely on direct or circumstantial evidence to establish its case. Generally, however, it cannot introduce evidence of a defendant’s prior convictions to demonstrate they committed the offense they currently are charged with, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court granted the defendant’s motion in limine to preclude evidence of his prior convictions in a carjacking case. If you are charged with a theft offense, it is wise to meet with a Sarasota criminal defense attorney to discuss what evidence the government may be permitted to use against you.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with brandishing a firearm during a carjacking. Prior to trial, the prosecution indicated that it intended to introduce evidence of the defendant’s three prior convictions: a 2009 conviction for carrying a concealed firearm and possession of other weapons and two convictions from 2018 and 2022 for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The prosecution argued that these prior convictions were admissible in the current case to demonstrate that the defendant’s alleged brandishing of a firearm during the offense was done “knowingly and intentionally” and was not a result of a mistake or accident.

Evidence of Prior Crimes in Florida Criminal Trials

Reportedly, in response, the defendant filed a motion in limine to exclude such evidence on the grounds that it only served to portray the defendant as having a bad character. The defendant noted that in United States v. Gray, a similar case, the district court allowed the introduction of the defendant’s prior convictions for armed carjacking, armed robbery, and car burglary. However, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that the district court abused its discretion in admitting the evidence under a “lack-of-accident-or-mistake theory.” Continue Reading ›

In Florida, when sentencing a person convicted of a crime, the courts will generally rely on statutory guidelines. The courts have the discretion to deviate from the guidelines, however, if the party seeking an upward or downward sentence demonstrates that a departure is warranted. In a recent opinion issued in a Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple crimes following a deadly accident, the court discussed when a downward departure sentence is appropriate. If you are charged with manslaughter or any other crime following an accident, it is in your best interest to talk to a Sarasota criminal defense attorney about your rights.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant was charged with manslaughter and numerous other crimes after she was involved in a fatal car accident. A jury ultimately found her guilty of driving without a license causing serious bodily injury or death. She moved for a downward departure sentence, arguing that she was not the proximate cause of death as the other driver caused the accident. The trial court denied her motion, however, stating that it did not have the discretion to issue a downward departure sentence based on comparative liability for the injuries. Consequently, the defendant was sentenced to the minimum scoresheet of approximately 15 years in prison. She appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in concluding that it was prohibited from considering her comparative fault as a potential basis for a downward departure sentence.

Determining Whether a Downward Departure Sentence is Appropriate

The court explains that determining the appropriateness of a downward departure sentence involves a two-step process. First, the court must ascertain whether there is a valid legal ground for the departure, as set forth in a statute or case law, and supported by facts proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Second, if a valid legal ground exists, the court must determine whether the departure is the best sentencing option by evaluating the totality of the circumstances.

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There are numerous measures in place at the state and federal levels that aim to protect people from unjust convictions. Among other things, people convicted of crimes have the right to file an appeal if they believe they were improperly convicted. If they fail to raise an argument on appeal, however, they cannot attempt to do so via a collateral challenge, as discussed in a recent opinion issued in a Florida case in which the defendant sought to overturn his conviction for drug trafficking and other offenses. If you are accused of committing a drug crime, it is smart to meet with a Sarasota drug crime defense attorney to assess your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm as a felon, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possessing 50 or more grams of methamphetamine in violation of federal law. He pleaded guilty without a plea agreement and was sentenced to 160 months in prison. He did not appeal his conviction or sentence. He then moved to vacate his conviction for using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in light of a recent ruling that invalidated the relevant statute’s residual clause pertaining to crimes of violence.

The Right to Appeal Criminal Convictions

The court denied the defendant’s request for relief on the grounds that his argument lacked merit and was procedurally defaulted. The court explained that collateral challenges could not do the work of an appeal. In other words, once a defendant has exhausted or waived the change to appeal, the courts are entitled to presume that the defendant’s conviction is fair and final. As such, claims that the defendant could avail themselves of but did not raise in a previous proceeding are procedurally defaulted and typically are barred from consideration on collateral review.

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The Florida courts take allegations of domestic violence seriously and will order injunctions for protection in matters in which they believe the petitioners present credible evidence of acts that constitute domestic violence. People that subsequently violate such injunctions may be subject to criminal penalties. The prosecution must establish each element of the crime of violating an injunction for protection in order to obtain a conviction; however, if it cannot, the defendant should be found not guilty. Recently, a Florida court vacated a defendant’s conviction for violating a protection order on the grounds the prosecution failed to establish each element of the crime. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, you should speak to a Sarasota domestic violence defense attorney to determine what defenses you may be able to set forth.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the state charged the defendant by information with stalking and violating an injunction for protection against repeat violence. During the trial, the state presented evidence that the alleged victim had sought and obtained an injunction against stalking against the defendant. The state did not present evidence of any other injunctions.

It is alleged that the defendant then moved for acquittal on the grounds that the state failed to establish the issuance of either an injunction against repeat violence or an injunction for protection against domestic violence. The trial court denied his motion, and he was found guilty as charged. The defendant then appealed.

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White collar crimes, like fraud and conspiracy, typically do not involve bodily harm but they are nonetheless staunchly prosecuted. As with any other criminal offense, the prosecution bears the burden of proving each element of a white crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and if it cannot, the defendant should be found not guilty. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to sustain a guilty verdict in a white collar crime case, in a matter in which the defendant appealed her conviction. If you are charged with a white collar crime it is advisable to contact a Sarasota criminal defense attorney to discuss your potential defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with multiple white collar crimes, including theft of government funds, identity theft, and wire fraud. The charges arose out of her filing false claims for relief funds that were intended to help farmers struggling with drought and fire. Following a jury trial, she was convicted as charged and sentenced to 28 months in prison. She appealed, arguing, among other things, that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the guilty verdict entered against her and, therefore, she should be granted a new trial.

Evidence Establishing Guilt in White Collar Crime Cases

Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, if the defendant so moves, a court may vacate any guilty verdict and grant a new trial if it is required in the interest of justice. In doing so, the court must evaluate the evidence and weigh the credibility of the witnesses. The Rules do not grant the courts leeway to reevaluate evidence and set aside verdicts simply because they believe some other result would be more appropriate, however.

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Multiple acts of battery may be deemed a single criminal offense, or each act may be charged separately. However, regardless of how battery crimes are charged, the State must prove each element of the offense to get a conviction, which necessitates properly advising the jury on how to examine the evidence provided at trial. This was addressed in a recent Florida decision that looked at what constituted a proper jury instruction in a battery case. If you’ve been charged with battery, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer about your options.

The Battery Allegations

According to reports, the defendant and the victim, who was his ex-girlfriend, had a verbal altercation. During the disagreement, the defendant snatched a lit cigarette from the victim’s hand, shoved her, and pushed her. With two or more battery convictions, he was charged with battery. During the trial, the defendant’s attorney objected to the verdict form since it did not differentiate between each act, and he said that a unanimous verdict was not required. The objection was overruled by the court, which determined that there was a continuous series of occurrences with no intervening actions. The defendant was found guilty and filed an appeal.

Charges in Florida Battery Cases

A trial court’s employment of a generic verdict form that does not assure a unanimous verdict is a reversible error, the court argued on appeal. A jury cannot condemn a person if a single count encompasses numerous independent offenses, even if they all violate the same statute. A jury must reach a unanimous decision on at least one of the acts described. The defendant in this case claimed that the trial court erred by allowing the jury to deliberate on three different incidents of battery although he was only charged with one.

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In Florida, it is illegal for people to possess controlled substances other than those prescribed by a doctor. Additionally, it is unlawful to sell or distribute such drugs, and people caught with a certain quantity of illicit substances may be charged with drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a serious crime that carries substantial penalties, and it is critical for people charged with such offenses to understand their rights. If you are accused of drug trafficking, it is in your best interest to meet with a Sarasota criminal defense attorney to evaluate your options for seeking a just result.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Under Florida Statute 893.135, it is unlawful to knowingly purchase, manufacture, sell, deliver, or bring in to the state or to knowingly possess certain amounts of controlled substances and constitutes drug trafficking. The amount varies depending on the drug in question. For example, a person who is caught with more than 25 pounds of cannabis or 300 or more cannabis plants may be charged with trafficking in cannabis, which is a felony of the first degree.

Similarly, a person who possesses 28 grams or more of cocaine may be charged with trafficking in cocaine. People may also be charged with drug trafficking for possessing a certain amount of morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, opium, hydrocodone, or any salt, isomer, derivative, or salt of an isomer of such a substance, including heroin and many other drugs. In addition to state charges, people accused of drug trafficking are also frequently charged with federal offenses. Continue Reading ›

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