Florida Court Explains Double Jeopardy Does not Bar Dual Convictions for Robbery and Theft  

Double jeopardy principles prohibit the state from charging or trying a defendant more than once for the same crime. In some cases where dual offenses result from the same factual scenario, double jeopardy precludes a defendant from being convicted for both crimes. This is not true with all crimes involving multiple offenses, however, as illustrated in a recent case arising out of a Florida court of appeals.

The court, in that case, rejected the defendant’s argument that he could not be convicted of both robbery and theft because it constituted double jeopardy, affirming his conviction of both charges.  If you face criminal charges in Clearwater, you should confer with a seasoned Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you develop a strategy for your defense.

 Factual Scenario

Reportedly, an armed robbery occurred at a convenience store. Police suspected the defendant committed the robbery as well as other robberies and conducted an investigation. The defendant was subsequently charged with armed robbery, grand theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, based on the results of the investigation. A jury convicted the defendant of armed robbery and petit theft. The defendant was sentenced to life in prison. He appealed his conviction arguing, among other things, that he could not be convicted of both robbery and theft because it constituted double jeopardy. The court of appeals rejected his argument and affirmed his conviction.

Double Jeopardy

Reportedly, the state conceded that the defendant could not be convicted of both crimes and agreed that the petit theft conviction should be vacated. The court was not convinced by either the defendant’s or the state’s reasoning with regards to the double jeopardy argument, however, and declined to vacate the theft conviction. The defendant argued that because robbery included the elements of petit theft, the state automatically had to prove petit theft to prove robbery. Thus, because petit theft was a lesser offense of robbery, the defendant argued he could not be convicted of both crimes.

The defendant cited a law stating that lesser offenses are subsumed by greater offenses and were an exception to the rule allowing for multiple convictions for the same act. The court noted, however, that the Florida courts specifically ruled that multiple convictions for separate offenses arising out of the same crime was not constitutionally prohibited if the legislature intended to permit separate punishments.  Here, the court found that petit theft merely required a showing the defendant took property valued between $100 and $300, while robbery did not. The robbery charge, however, required a showing of force, which was not required to prove petit theft. As such, the court found that petit theft was not subsumed by the robbery charge and double jeopardy did not prohibit the dual convictions.

Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are resident of Clearwater currently facing criminal charges, you should meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you protect your rights. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a seasoned criminal defense attorney who can assist you in formulating a strong defense. Contact our offices at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.

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Appeals Court in Florida Considers Whether Former Prosecutor Can Serve As Juror September 27 2018, Clearwater Sex Crimes Lawyer Blog

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