Florida Court Discusses Proving a Conviction Violates Double Jeopardy

The state and federal constitutions prohibit Double Jeopardy, which essentially means that a person cannot be tried or convicted for the same offense more than once. As such, if a defendant is convicted for numerous offenses that require proof of the same elements, it may violate Double Jeopardy. In a recent opinion, a Florida court discussed the proof required to demonstrate a Double Jeopardy violation in a case in which the defendant appealed his convictions for robbery and aggravated assault. If you are charged with robbery, it is smart to contact a skilled Sarasota robbery defense lawyer to discuss your potential defenses.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant broke into a home and robbed a drug dealer at gunpoint. He was arrested at the scene of the crime and charged with robbery and aggravated assault with a weapon. A jury convicted him of both offenses, after which he appealed, arguing in part that his attorney was ineffective for failing to argue that his convictions violated Double Jeopardy.

Proving a Conviction Violates Double Jeopardy

The court explained that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Florida and United States Constitutions provides that no one shall twice be put in jeopardy of life or limb for the same offense. The Double Jeopardy clause prohibits, among other things, multiple punishments for the same crime.

The component of Double Jeopardy that protects against cumulative penalties is designed to ensure that a court’s discretion with regard to sentencing is confined to the limits set forth by the legislature. As such, the question of whether punishments are “multiple” under the Double Jeopardy clause is essentially one of legislative intent. In this regard, legislative intent usually depends on whether each crime requires proof of an element that the other does not.

In analyzing whether a conviction violates Double Jeopardy, the courts are limited to considering only the statutory elements of the offenses in question and may not evaluate the proof or allegations in a particular case. Here, the defendant argued that his conviction for aggravated assault with a firearm should be vacated because he was convicted of this crime as the lesser included offense of burglary with an assault.

The court explained that if the defendant was convicted of armed burglary with an assault, his aggravated assault conviction might have been subsumed into the home-invasion robbery conviction. As he was not, however, his argument failed. In other words, the court found that the statutory elements for home-invasion robbery while carrying a firearm and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon differed so that a person could be convicted of both crimes without violating double jeopardy. Thus, the court denied his appeal.

Speak to a Trusted Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal defendants have numerous frights, and if their rights are violated, they may be able to argue that their convictions should be vacated. If you are accused of robbery, it is advisable to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The trusted Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law are skilled at helping criminal defendants obtain favorable verdicts, and if we represent you, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law via the online form or at 941-462-1789 to set up a consultation.

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