Articles Posted in Violent crimes

The state staunchly prosecutes violent crimes, and people convicted of such offenses are often sentenced to lengthy prison terms. There are statutory limits pertaining to sentences for violent crimes, however, and if a sentence imposed by a court exceeds the statutory guidelines, it may be illegal. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes an illegal sentence in a case in which the defendant sought to correct a sentence imposed for aggravated assault. If you are charged with a violent crime, it is smart to consult a Sarasota criminal defense attorney to assess your options for pursuing a good outcome.

Procedural Background

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault. A jury convicted him following a trial, and the jury explicitly found that he discharged a gun when he committed the crimes. The trial court then issued a sentence of twenty years in prison for the aggravated assault count and thirty years for the manslaughter count, which were the statutory minimums. The court relied on the jury’s findings in issuing the sentences.

It is reported that the defendant then appealed, arguing that the sentence for his aggravated assault conviction was illegal. He also filed a motion arguing that because a firearm was an essential element of both crimes, his convictions were improperly reclassified, and therefore, his sentences exceeded the statutory limit. Continue Reading ›

It is not uncommon for the State to file multiple criminal charges against a person following a single incident. While this is permissible, a person cannot be tried or convicted more than once for the same crime, as doing so would violate double jeopardy. In many instances, double jeopardy also bars a person from being convicted for an offense and a lesser offense, even though they are two different crimes. This was illustrated in a recent Florida case in which the court vacated a defendant’s conviction for attempted home invasion robbery due to his conviction for burglary with assault. If you are accused of a violent offense, it is in your best interest to talk to a Sarasota violent crime defense attorney to evaluate your options for seeking a good outcome.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple crimes following a home invasion that resulted in the death of two people and the shootings of four other individuals. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was found guilty of fourteen separate offenses, including burglary with assault and attempted home invasion robbery. Prior to sentencing, the defendant filed an appeal. Among other arguments he set forth, the defendant claimed that his convictions for burglary with assault and attempted home invasion robbery violated double jeopardy. The court agreed with the defendant’s assertions and vacated his conviction for the robbery offense.

Protections Against Double Jeopardy

The court explained that double jeopardy claims set forth pure questions of law; as such, they are reviewed de novo. Pursuant to Florida law, separate convictions for distinct offenses arising out of a single act are only permissible if each crime contains at least one element that the other does not.

Continue Reading ›

Federal law deems certain offenses as crimes of violence. If a defendant is convicted of using a firearm during a crime of violence, they may face significantly greater penalties than they would otherwise receive. If the elements of an offense do not expressly require the use of force or bodily harm, though, it may not be clear if it constitutes a crime of violence. Recently, in a ruling in which it denied the defendant’s appeal, a Florida court discussed what offenses are considered crimes of violence. If you are charged with a violent crime, it is in your best interest to consult a dedicated Florida criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant pleaded guilty and was convicted of numerous offenses, including bank robbery, attempted bank robbery, and brandishing a weapon in relation to and during crimes of violence, pursuant to federal law. He was sentenced to severe penalties for discharging a firearm, namely an additional seven years for each of the three crimes of violence for a total of an additional twenty-one years. He subsequently appealed his convictions, arguing in part that robbery and attempted robbery were not crimes of violence and that the statute defining sentences for crimes of violence was impermissibly vague. The court rejected his reasoning and denied his appeal.

Crimes of Violence Under Federal Law

Under the statute in question, an offense will be considered a crime of violence if it is a felony that includes an element of the use or threatened or attempted use of force against another person. The courts employ a categorical approach to determine if a crime is a crime of violence. In other words, they look only at the elements of the charged offense, presume that the defendant’s conviction arose of the least of the acts deemed unlawful, and then assess whether those acts meet the criteria of a crime of violence.

Continue Reading ›

Kidnapping is one of the most serious crimes a person can be accused of committing, and a conviction for kidnapping often results in a lengthy jail sentence. Not all confinements during the commission of a criminal offense constitute grounds for a kidnapping conviction, though. Rather, as explained in a recent Florida opinion, the courts must conduct a three-part test to determine if the State has met its burden of proof with regard to a defendant’s guilt in a kidnapping case. If you are charged with kidnapping or any other violent offense, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Sarasota violent crime defense lawyer regarding what evidence the State must produce to establish your guilt.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and two other individuals entered an auto parts store shortly before it closed. One of the men placed a gun to the store manager’s head and demanded that he and two other employees and two customers get on the ground, which they did. The man then grabbed the manager and forced him to open the safe in the back of the store. The defendant and the other man stayed with the employees and customers in the store. One of the gunmen struck an employee who refused to abide by his command and dragged him to the middle of the store. The men then made the other employee and the customers crawl to a back room where they were robbed.

Allegedly, the State charged the defendant with four counts of kidnapping in the facilitation of a felony. He was convicted, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court upheld three of his convictions but reversed one on the grounds the evidence produced by the State was insufficient to sustain the conviction under the three-part test for kidnapping during the commission of a felony as established under Florida law. Continue Reading ›

In many criminal matters, the State must rely on circumstantial evidence to obtain a conviction, such as eyewitness testimony. Similarly, criminal defendants often ask witnesses to testify to substantiate their defenses. Thus, the inability to present a witness can be greatly prejudicial to a defendant and may result in an unjust conviction. A defendant who wishes to delay a trial or verdict to permit an additional witness to testify must meet a high burden of proof; however, and such requests are not often granted. Recently, a Florida court discussed what a defendant seeking a continuance to present an additional witness must prove for the request to be granted in a case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous violent crimes. If you are charged with violent offenses, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Sarasota violent crime defense attorney regarding your rights.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple violent crimes, including first-degree murder and armed robbery. During his trial, he filed a motion for a continuance so that he could present an additional witness. The court denied his motion, and he was convicted as charged. He subsequently appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a continuance. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling and the jury’s verdict.

Motions for Continuances to Present Additional Witnesses

After reviewing the evidence of record, the court noted that the defendant preserved the issue for appeal but found that his appeal lacked merit. The court explained that a denial of a motion for a continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. In the subject case, the defendant’s attorney requested the continuance after both sides had presented their cases and closing arguments were about to begin. He asserted that a possible witness had just been disclosed but admitted he had not spoken to or met with the witness. Continue Reading ›

When a person is charged with a crime in Florida, the State is generally precluded from introducing collateral evidence of other crimes. In other words, the State cannot produce evidence of uncharged crimes that the defendant allegedly committed as evidence of the defendant’s guilt. There are certain situations in which collateral crime evidence is admissible, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate court case, in which the defendant was charged with kidnapping. If you are a resident of Sarasota charged with kidnapping or another violent crime, it is in your best interest to speak with a knowledgeable Sarasota violent crime defense attorney to discuss the evidence that the State may be permitted to introduce against you at trial.

Evidence Produced at the Defendant’s Trial

The defendant was charged with eight crimes, including sexual battery, unlawful imprisonment, rape, and kidnapping. The case proceeded to trial, during which the State introduced evidence of crimes with which the defendant was not charged but that the State alleged he committed. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in permitting the State to introduce collateral crime evidence.

Collateral Crime Evidence in Florida Criminal Matters

On appeal, the defendant argued that the State introduced evidence of the defendant’s alleged collateral crimes to impugn his character and that allowing such evidence denied him of the right to a fair trial. Specifically, during the trial, the defendant’s alleged victim, who was his former girlfriend, testified that the defendant tortured her for hours. The defendant argued that such testimony was improper because it introduced evidence of acts that were not part of the crimes with which the defendant was charged.

Continue Reading ›

If you are charged with a violent crime there are a variety of defenses you can set forth to try to avoid a conviction, including self-defense and mistake. A Florida appellate court recently held, however, that evidence of medical malpractice is not a valid defense to a second-degree murder charge, in a case in which the victim died from a gunshot wound. If you are charged with a violent crime in Sarasota it is critical to engage a knowledgeable Sarasota violent crime defense attorney to determine what defenses to set forth to give you a strong chance of a favorable result.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Crime and Medical Treatment

Allegedly, the defendant was walking down the street when the victim approached him in a car and rolled down the window. The defendant argued with the victim, and then allegedly punched and shot the victim. The victim drove to a nearby gas station where he collapsed. The victim was transported to a hospital where he ultimately died from his injuries. The defendant was charged with second-degree murder. At the trial, the defendant sought to cross-examine the medical examiner regarding possible intervening causes of the victim’s death, including medical malpractice, but the court prohibited the line of questioning. The jury found the defendant guilty, after which the defendant appealed.

Florida Standard for Admitting Evidence in Criminal Trials

On appeal, the defendant argued the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to question the medical examiner regarding medical malpractice. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, stating that under Florida law, a defendant cannot escape a penalty for an act that causes a victim’s death by arguing the death could have been prevented by certain medical treatment. Rather, if the wound inflicted by the defendant is life-threatening, evidence of improper medical treatment or the harm caused by such treatment will not help the defendant avoid a conviction. In other words, when a defendant fatally wounds a victim, regardless of whether the medical care rendered to treat the wound is malpractice or merely constitutes sub-optimal medical care, the care will not constitute a superseding or intervening cause of the victim’s death.
Continue Reading ›

Contact Information