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One of the tenets of Florida criminal law is that a defendant must be competent to stand trial. If a defendant’s competency is in question, a hearing must be held to determine whether the defendant is fit to stand trial for criminal charges.

When a court fails to adequately assess whether a defendant is competent prior to trying the defendant, it can result in a reversal of a conviction, as shown in a recent Florida appellate court case. If you live in Sarasota and are facing criminal charges, it is prudent to consult a seasoned Sarasota criminal defense attorney to formulate a defense.

The Defendant’s Prior Charges and Competency Determinations

It is reported that the defendant was charged with aggravated battery in 1987 and aggravated assault in 1988. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in both cases, after which he was committed to the Department of Children and Families and placed in a State hospital. He was released in 1995 but violated the terms of his release and was returned to the hospital. He subsequently assaulted members of the hospital staff and was placed in a Florida commitment center. In 2015, he attacked an employee of the commitment center. He was then charged with and convicted of battery.  The defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds that the court never conducted a competency hearing or advised the jury that he had previously been deemed incompetent.

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In some cases, rather than sentence a person convicted of a crime to imprisonment, a court will impose probation. A probation sentence typically includes conditions that the defendant must abide by. If a defendant fails to comply with the terms of his or her probation, probation may be revoked and a stricter sentence may be imposed.

As set forth in a case recently decided by a Florida appellate court, however, not all probation violations are grounds for revocation. If you live in Sarasota and are facing criminal charges, it is prudent to consult a seasoned Sarasota criminal defense attorney to assist you in formulating a defense.

Terms of the Defendant’s Probation

The defendant was convicted of welfare fraud and sentenced to probation. There were several conditions to her probation, including the conditions that she “will pay” court costs and that she “may perform” community service in lieu of paying court costs. The defendant did not pay the court costs or perform community service. Consequently, the State moved for a revocation of probation. During the revocation proceeding, the court did not assess whether the defendant had the ability to pay the court costs, but found that the defendant had the ability to perform community service. Thus, the court revoked her probation. The defendant then appealed the revocation of her probation.

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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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If a person is stopped due to suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the police will typically ask the person to submit to field sobriety tests and chemical testing to assess whether he or she is impaired. Florida’s implied consent statute requires licensed drivers to submit to chemical testing and the refusal to submit to said tests can result in the suspension of the driver’s license. Additionally, in many cases, the refusal to submit to chemical testing can be introduced at trial as evidence of guilt.

A Florida appellate court recently held, however, that in cases where the police fail to advise a driver of the consequences of refusing to submit to chemical testing, evidence of the driver’s refusal to submit to testing cannot be introduced at a trial for a DUI charge. If you live in Sarasota and are currently charged with DUI or other crimes, you consult a trusted Sarasota crime defense attorney to develop a strategy for your defense.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, the defendant, who was driving an SUV, rear-ended a person driving a scooter. The defendant did not stop after he struck the person but continued driving. He then struck a stop sign and briefly exited his vehicle before resuming driving. He was pulled over shortly after the incident. He was transported to a police station where he refused to submit to either field sobriety tests or chemical testing. The defendant was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with death, DUI causing damage to property or injury, and DUI causing death. Prior to the trial, he filed a motion to preclude the State from introducing evidence of his refusal to submit to any kind of testing, on the grounds that the arresting officer did not read him Florida’s implied consent law or advise him of the adverse consequences he might face for refusing to submit to testing. The court denied his motion. The defendant was subsequently convicted of all charges, after which he appealed.

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In all criminal cases, the State bears the burden of producing evidence that the defendant committed the crime for which he or she is charged. If the State does not produce adequate evidence of a crime, the defendant should not be convicted. If a defendant is convicted despite insufficient evidence of a crime, as a general rule, he or she can only appeal if he or she objected to the sufficiency of evidence during the trial. An exception to this rule occurs when there is no evidence that the defendant committed a crime, however.

This was demonstrated in a case decided by a Florida court, where the court overturned a conviction for possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking, due to the State’s lack of evidence of the crime. If you live in Sarasota and are currently facing criminal charges, you should consult a trusted Sarasota crime defense attorney to develop a strategy for your defense. 

Alleged Facts Regarding the Crime Committed  

Allegedly, a detective was at a package distribution center when a package was brought to his attention. The package was addressed to the defendant, who did not live at the address to which the package was sent. The package was delivered to a house located at the address listed on the package. Shortly thereafter, the defendant pulled up to the house in a car and went into the house. He left the house with the package a few minutes later and got into his car and drove away. The police then arrested the defendant. The defendant was charged with cocaine trafficking, possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted on all charges. The defendant appealed the possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking conviction.

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When a person is convicted of a crime, there are several factors that are considered in determining an appropriate sentence. For certain crimes, the court must employ a sentencing scoresheet to determine the minimum sentence that may be imposed. If a court does not properly classify the crimes for which the defendant was convicted on a sentencing scoresheet, however, it can result in an inappropriate sentence.

This was illustrated recently in a case heard by a Florida appellate court, in which the court reversed the defendant’s sentenced due to a scoresheet error.  If you live in Sarasota and are currently facing criminal charges, you should meet with an experienced Sarasota crime defense attorney to formulate a plan for your defense.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

Reportedly, the defendant was on probation for a drug charge when he was charged with armed kidnapping and robbery with a weapon. He entered a no contest plea to violating his probation, and the State offered a factual basis for his plea. The state alleged that three men entered a cell phone store, bound one of the employee’s arms behind her back, and stoles several phones. Prior to leaving, one of the men sprayed the employee in the face with pepper spray. A short time thereafter, a similar robbery occurred at a different cell phone store. The second store had surveillance video, which ultimately led to the defendant’s arrest. The defendant stipulated to the facts introduced by the State but argued that he played a lesser role in the crimes.

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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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In many instances where a defendant is charged with a sex crime, the only evidence of the crime is the testimony of the alleged victim. In Clearwater sex crime cases where there is no other corroborating evidence of the alleged crime if the victim recants his or her prior testimony at trial, it is unlikely the State will be able to present evidence to support a conviction.

This was recently illustrated in a case decided by a Florida court of appeals, in which the defendant’s convictions for two sex crimes were overturned, due to the alleged victim’s repudiation of her prior statement at trial. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a sex crime, you should retain a seasoned Clearwater sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible, to analyze what defenses are available to the charges you face.

Alleged Sexual Battery

Reportedly, the defendant sexually battered his girlfriend’s 16-year-old mentally disabled sister. The victim’s mother took her to a hospital, where she gave a detailed account of the defendant’s actions. The State charged the defendant with three separate counts of sexual battery, for three acts of oral, penile, and digital penetration, based upon the victim’s account.

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If you are currently facing sex crime charges, it is important to be aware of both the elements of the crime charged and the elements considered for sentencing if you are convicted of the crime. The elements weighed for sentencing may be different than those needed to find a defendant guilty, and if certain elements are present it may result in increased penalties.

For example, in a recent federal appellate case which arose out of a Florida district court, the court held that the sentencing guidelines for child pornography allow for enhanced sentencing for a person convicted of possession of child pornography, if the offender is determined to have produced or caused the production of such pornography. If you are a resident of Clearwater currently facing sex crime charges, you should consult a skilled Clearwater sex crimes defense attorney to help you develop a plan to help you retain your rights.

Defendant’s Conviction and Sentencing

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of conspiring to receive and possess child pornography and receiving child pornography. He was sentenced to 480 months in prison. He appealed his sentence on the grounds that the trial court erred when it determined that he’d produced or caused the production of child pornography in determining an appropriate sentence. He further argued his sentence was unreasonable due to certain mitigating factors such as his lack of criminal history, his record of public service, and his unstable childhood. On appeal, the court affirmed his sentence.

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