Articles Posted in Legal Process

In Florida, the law affords a person suspected of a crime certain rights and protections. For example, the State is prohibited from introducing evidence of bad acts that are not related to the offense charged against a criminal defendant at trial, unless an exception to the rule applies. Recently, a Florida appellate court upheld a conviction where the defendant  was convicted of solicitation to commit murder, finding that the trial court did not err in permitting evidence of bad acts under the evidentiary principle of “opening the door.” If you are charged with solicitation to commit murder or any other violent crime in Sarasota, it is important to retain the services of a skilled Sarasota criminal defense attorney who will work vigorously to preclude any evidence that should not be admitted against you.

The Defendant’s Alleged Criminal Acts

Allegedly, the defendant’s boyfriend approached the police and advised them that the defendant intended to kill her husband. The boyfriend agreed to be an informant for the police. Subsequently, the police recorded conversations between the defendant and her boyfriend and between the defendant and an undercover police officer, who the defendant believed was a hit man. The undercover officer agreed to kill the defendant’s husband. The police then faked a crime scene and informed the defendant that her husband was murdered. The defendant was ultimately charged with solicitation to commit first degree murder. Due to various issues, the defendant ultimately underwent three trials.

The Florida legislature drafted criminal rules of procedure and appellate rules of procedure that a defendant must follow in defending against the charges he or she faces or appealing a conviction. It is essential to comply with the obligations set forth under the rules of procedure, as the failure to do so can adversely affect your case. In only the most extreme circumstances, however, will a failure to comply with rules of appellate procedure result in the dismissal of an appeal.

A Florida district court recently quashed a trial court’s dismissal of an appeal for failure to file a brief in a timely manner, and in doing so explained when dismissal of an appeal may be warranted. If you reside in Sarasota and are charged with a crime, it is important to retain an experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

The Defendant’s Case

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of two misdemeanor crimes. He appealed the verdict and his sentence. On appeal, the defendant failed to file a brief in support of his appeal within the time set forth by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. The court issued a warning to the defendant and set forth an order stating that if he did not file his brief within thirty days, his appeal would be dismissed. Thirty days after the court’s order the defendant’s attorney filed a motion for an extension of time to file the brief. The defendant’s attorney explained that the delay in filing the brief was caused by the fact that she did not yet have the trial transcript. The court denied the motion and dismissed the defendant’s appeal. The defendant appealed the dismissal of his appeal to the District Court.

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The statutes that criminalize behavior must be sufficiently specific to be deemed constitutional. When statutes are vague and overbroad, they can lead to improper convictions and subsequent challenges to the constitutionality of the statutes.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Florida analyzed whether a statute criminalizing hazing was overbroad in violation of the First Amendment, and ultimately determined it was not, affirming the defendant’s conviction. If you are facing criminal charges in Sarasota, it is important to retain a skilled Sarasota crime defense attorney to assist you in protecting your liberties.

Factual Background

Reportedly, the defendant was a member of the percussion section of the marching band at a Florida university. The percussion section rode to away events on a bus and engaged in a three-part ritual during their trips. The first part involved a member sitting at the front of the bus and getting struck by other band members, the second involved the member standing and holding onto the luggage rack while being slapped by other members, and the last part involved the member walking to the back of the bus while other members slapped, punched, and kicked them. The defendant, as the president of the bus, determined when a member should take part in the ritual.

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Under Florida law, criminal suspects under the age of 18 are afforded certain rights based on their age, such as the right to be tried in a juvenile court. The juvenile court system may be more lenient and result in less stringent penalties than would be issued in adult court. The right to be tried as a juvenile is not a fundamental right that is guaranteed, however, but can be waived due to inaction.

A Florida district court recently upheld a juvenile defendant’s conviction in adult court for vehicular homicide, where the defendant’s attorney did not object to the jurisdiction until after the jury issued a verdict. If you are a juvenile Clearwater resident facing criminal charges, you should consult a skilled Clearwater crimal defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and available defenses.

Procedural Facts

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including vehicular homicide, arising out of an incident that occurred when he was 15-years-old. Despite his juvenile status, the case was direct-filed in adult court. He entered a plea and was subsequently tried in front of a jury, which resulted in a hung jury and mistrial. A second trial subsequently commenced, after which the defendant was convicted of all charges. Shortly prior to the defendant’s sentencing hearing his attorney raised an objection to the court’s jurisdiction by filing a motion to vacate and remand to juvenile court. The defendant’s attorney had not raised any objection to the adult-court’s jurisdiction at any previous point in the proceedings. The state argued that the direct-filing in adult court was proper and that the defendant waived the right to object to the court’s jurisdiction prior to the conclusion of the trial. The court agreed, denying the motion. The defendant subsequently appealed, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel.

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One of the protections afforded criminal defendants is the prohibiting of hearsay testimony as evidence of a crime. While there are certain exceptions to the rule against hearsay, they are strictly construed. As shown in a recent case ruled on by a District Court of Appeal of Florida, if a trial court erroneously allows the admission of hearsay evidence, it can result in a conviction being overturned. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you retain your rights.

Reported Facts

Allegedly, the defendant went to the apartment of his friend’s neighbors to question them about reportedly harassing his friend. It is undisputed that the neighbors’ door was knocked down, the defendant entered the apartment, a fight ensued, and a gun was discharged. The exact details of what happened after the defendant arrived at the neighbor’s apartment were disputed, however. Following the incident, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes.

At the trial, the defendant testified that he asked the neighbors to leave his friend alone, accidentally knocked the door down, and was pulled into the apartment, and one of the neighbors’ had a gun that discharged. In contrast, the neighbors testified that the defendant kicked in the door, pointed a gun at them, assaulted them, and discharged the gun. The defendant’s friend did not testify at the trial. The state admitted out-of-court statements made by the friend into evidence at the trial, despite objections by the defendant’s counsel that they constituted hearsay. The statements indicated the friend was going to send someone to “put a cap in” the neighbors and beat them up. The state argued these statements were evidence the defendant intended to assault the neighbors when he went to their apartment. The defendant was ultimately convicted of burglary of an occupied dwelling and assault, but the jury specifically found that the defendant did not use or possess a firearm or commit a battery. The defendant appealed, arguing the evidence regarding his friend’s out-of-court statements constituted inadmissible hearsay.

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If a defendant is asking the court for something, usually they need to file a motion. A motion is a document that asks the court to take a specific action. When a defendant files a motion with the court, there are specific requirements that the motion must conform to in order for the court to be willing to consider it. Generally, the motion must include the relief requested and the reasons the court should grant the relief. One of the things that defendants need to be aware of is if that some motions are only allowed to be filed once, and so must include all of the requisite information. It can be confusing, which is where your skilled Clearwater sex crimes defense attorney comes in. They can help you to make sure that any motions you file are complete.

Florida Post-Conviction Relief: 3.850

In a case heard by the Fourth District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida, the motion at issue was a motion for post-conviction relief, based on rule 3.850 in the Florida Criminal Code. The defendant here was convicted of two counts of lewd or lascivious battery on a child over 12 and one count of lewd of lascivious molestation. After his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal, the defendant filed a rule 3.850 motion with the assistance of counsel from the public defender’s office.

Post-conviction relief may be available for defendants when there has been ineffective assistance of counsel, when there are requests for DNA testing, and when there are concerns that the sentence may be illegal. Since this motion is seeking post-conviction relief, it can only be filed after there has been a conviction. Generally a motion of this kind is asking for the original verdict to be vacated and for there to be a new trial.

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