Florida Court Explains What Constitutes a Crime of Violence

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.

The court noted that while the defendant argued that robbery could be committed without the actual, threatened, or attempted use of force, he conceded that it could be perpetrated by intimidation, which case law established qualified as a crime of violence because it involved the threatened use of force. Based on the established precedent, the court found that the defendant’s convictions for robbery and attempted robbery were convictions for crimes of violence, and therefore his subsequent enhanced sentences were proper. As such, the court affirmed his convictions and denied his appeal.

Confer with a Skilled Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer

Violent crimes carry greater penalties than other offenses, and it is smart for anyone accused of a violent offense to contact an attorney to discuss their possible defenses. If you are charged with a crime of violence, the skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law can assess the facts of your case and advise you of your options for seeking a just outcome. You can reach Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling at 941-462-1789 to set up a meeting.


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