The Florida and United States Constitutions aim to protect the rights of people charged with crimes. This means, among other things, that if the prosecution violates a person’s rights at any point in a criminal proceeding, such violations also may constitute grounds for challenging convictions that were the end result of such proceedings. Merely because a person disagrees with a jury’s verdict does not mean a verdict is unjust, however, as demonstrated in a recent ruling delivered in a Florida burglary case. If you are accused of burglary, it is smart to speak to a Tampa theft crime defense lawyer concerning your rights.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the State charged the defendant with burglary of an occupied dwelling with assault and was subsequently convicted of the lesser included offense of burglary of an occupied dwelling. He moved for acquittal prior to the verdict, but the trial court denied his motion.

Allegedly, the defendant subsequently filed an appeal, raising three arguments: first, that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal, asserting that the State had not presented sufficient evidence of intent to commit an offense upon entry into the victim’s home; second, that he was entitled to a twelve-person jury under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and third, that the trial court erred in not granting his motion to correct a sentencing error regarding the imposition of a public defender fee.

Grounds for Reversing Convictions Continue Reading ›

Criminal defendants will often want to mount a vigorous defense against the charges they face. In some instances, though, they will find it beneficial to enter into a plea agreement. Sentences issued pursuant to such agreements must abide by the sentencing laws and guidelines; otherwise, they may be overturned. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida weapons crime case in which the defendant argued that his consecutive sentences were illegal and ultimately prevailed. If you are accused of a gun crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer to determine your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

History of the Case

It is reported that pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant was serving a twenty-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for aggravated assault with a firearm and discharge, as well as a consecutive five-year prison sentence, with a three-year mandatory minimum provision, for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The trial court imposed the sentences under section 775.087(2) of the Florida Statutes.

Allegedly, the defendant moved to correct his sentence, arguing that the consecutive sentencing structure was illegal because the crimes were committed during a single criminal episode with one victim and a single shot discharged that did not strike the victim. The trial court denied his motion, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, people generally have the right to carry firearms. There are exceptions to the rule, however. For example, people convicted of felonies can be charged with crimes for possessing weapons. Convictions for such offenses can carry significant penalties, and in many cases, it is unlikely that any subsequent changes in the law provide grounds for a reduced sentence, as explained in a recent Florida ruling. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is smart to contact a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer to determine your possible defenses.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the defendant pleaded guilty to possession of multiple firearms as a convicted felon and received a sentence of 97 months in prison, based on his offense level and criminal history category. Subsequently, certain sentencing adjustments were issued by the United States Sentencing Commission, including Amendment 821, which the defendant sought to apply retroactively to his case.

It is reported that the defendant particularly focused on the part of Amendment 821, which allows for a downward departure in a defendant’s criminal history category if certain criteria are met, including prior convictions for possession of marijuana for personal use. Additionally, he argued that the executive order issued by President Joe Biden granting pardons for simple possession of marijuana offenses applied to his case. As such, he sought a revised sentencing of 87 months or lower based on these developments. Continue Reading ›

People charged with sex crimes often fear that they will have to remain in jail until their trial is over. In many cases, though, the courts find it appropriate to release people charged with sex offenses on bond, which allows them to participate more fully in their defense. If a person out on bond is charged with a second offense, their bond may be revoked, however. In a recent Florida ruling, the court discussed grounds for revoking and reinstating bond in a criminal action.  If you are faced with charges that you committed a sex crime, it is imperative to meet with a  Tampa sex crime defense lawyer to discuss what you can do to safeguard your liberties.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the defendant faced numerous charges, including sexual battery upon a child under twelve, sexual activity with a child twelve to eighteen years old, lewd or lascivious conduct, and lewd or lascivious molestation. While out on bond for these charges, the defendant was arrested for domestic battery, leading to a second criminal case against him.

Reportedly, the court revoked the defendant’s bond in his first case due to the new offense. The State later dropped the domestic battery charge against the defendant, however, effectively ending the second case. The defendant then sought to reinstate his bond in his first case, arguing that since the second case against him was dismissed, there was no basis for bond revocation. The trial court denied the defendant’s request, after which he filed a petition for habeas corpus. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, it is not uncommon for people to be sentenced to a term of probation, either after or in lieu of a prison sentence. People sentenced to probation, or community control, must abide by the terms of their probation order, which, among other things, means they must not commit additional crimes. If they violate any of the order’s terms, their probation may be revoked. While probation revocation hearings are not criminal trials, people before the court for such hearings nonetheless have rights. Accordingly, if their rights are violated and it results in an unjust revocation of probation, there may be grounds for reversing the ruling against them, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you are charged with violating your probation, it is wise to talk to a Tampa probation violation defense lawyer about your rights and what defenses you may be able to assert.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the state filed an affidavit of violation of probation alleging that the defendant committed three new law violations: armed carjacking, grand theft of a vehicle in the third degree, and resisting an officer without violence. However, the written order of revocation outlined different violations, such as failing to undergo a mental health evaluation, not completing drug/alcohol treatment, failing to make restitution payments, possessing a weapon, failing to report to the community control officer, not staying confined to his approved residence, and failing to submit to electronic monitoring multiple times.

It is reported that during the revocation hearing, the defendant argued whether the carjacking should not be considered “armed.” Despite this, the trial court revoked the defendant’s probation, orally stating that he violated probation by committing the three criminal offenses mentioned earlier. The defendant then appealed. Continue Reading ›

People accused of crimes when they are minors will typically be charged as juveniles. Juvenile criminal defendants have the same rights as adults, and the procedural rules for juvenile hearings are largely the same as those applied in criminal trials. For example, the courts will adhere to the Florida rules of evidence when determining whether to admit evidence at a juvenile delinquency hearing, as discussed in a recent Florida case. If your child was charged with a criminal offense, it is smart to talk to a Tampa juvenile crime defense lawyer about what steps you can take to help protect their interests.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, who was a juvenile, was residing at a group home when he was seen hitting another resident. Law enforcement officers responded to the scene, and the juvenile defendant was subsequently arrested. The State filed a delinquency petition against the juvenile defendant, charging him with one count of simple battery. At the final adjudicatory hearing, as the victim failed to appear, the State sought to prove the offense through alternative means, primarily relying on the surveillance footage.

Allegedly, two witnesses testified to authenticate the footage: a group home employee who retrieved the video and a police officer who viewed the footage and retrieved it from the IT personnel at the group home. The court issued a final order adjudicating the juvenile defendant delinquent for battery and placing him under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice for one year. The juvenile defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting the surveillance footage into evidence during the adjudicatory hearing. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, when sentencing a person convicted of a crime, the courts will rely on numerous factors when determining an appropriate penalty, including victim injury points. Thus, if a sentencing court improperly adds victim injury points, the resulting sentence may be illegal, and there may be grounds for vacating it, as demonstrated by a recent Florida opinion delivered in a sexual battery case. If you are charged with a crime of a sexual nature, it is important to understand your rights, and you should meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant filed a motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) to correct an allegedly illegal sentence. The defendant argued that his life sentences for two sexual battery offenses were illegal because victim injury points were improperly added. The offenses occurred in 1988, and under the law at that time, victim injury points could only be added once per victim per criminal episode.

Reportedly, the defendant contended that he received victim injury points for three offenses, but there were only at most two criminal episodes involving a single victim. Removing 40 penetration points for one sexual battery would reduce his permissible guidelines sentencing range from life to 40 years in prison. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

The Constitution affords criminal defendants numerous rights, including protections against stops or searches without a warrant. There are some exceptions to the warrant requirement, though, such as when an officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that a person is committing a crime. In a recent Florida opinion in a gun crime case in which the defendant argued his stop was unlawful, the court explained what factual scenario supports a probable cause finding. If you are charged with a gun crime, it is important to talk to a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in December 2022, around midnight, a police officer noticed two individuals attempting to conceal themselves behind shipping containers at a big box store. The male, later identified as the defendant, was directed by the police officer to put down his bicycle and follow him to his squad car. The defendant resisted, leading to a chase. After catching up, the police officer tackled the defendant, and a subsequent search incident to arrest revealed a Taurus .357 revolver.

It is reported that the defendant, a convicted felon, was charged with knowingly possessing a firearm in violation of federal statutes. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained by the officer, arguing that the stop and seizure was unlawful, as the officer lacked reasonable suspicion for the detention. Additionally, the defendant argued a Miranda violation, asserting he was questioned without proper warnings.

Reasonable Suspicion in Criminal Cases

The court ultimately rejected the defendant’s argument regarding the stop. In doing so, it explained that brief investigatory stops are permissible if supported by probable cause or reasonable suspicion. The court emphasized that law enforcement officers can detain individuals based on probable cause to believe they committed an offense. Continue Reading ›

Pursuant to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, people have a right to bear arms, which means that they are generally permitted to possess firearms. There are restrictions to the right, though; for example, people are prohibited from possessing guns in certain settings, typically deemed sensitive places. As held by a Florida court in a recent opinion, though, all government buildings do not necessarily constitute such places. If you are accused of possessing a gun in violation of the law, it is wise to meet with a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer regarding your rights.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that the defendant, a U.S. Postal Service semi-truck driver in Tampa, was charged with carrying a concealed firearm onto federal property. The charges arose after the defendant, holding a Florida concealed carry permit, brought a Smith & Wesson 9mm firearm in a fanny pack for self-defense during work.

It is reported that in September 2022, agents from the U.S. Postal Service attempted to detain the defendant, leading to an arrest after an attempted escape. The defendant was charged with possessing a firearm in a federal facility and for forcibly resisting arrest. He moved to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that the law that criminalized possession of firearms in federal facilities was unconstitutional as applied to him and that he resisted an unlawful arrest. Continue Reading ›

Federal sentencing statutes allow the courts to impose increased penalties for each subsequent conviction for a serious drug offense. It may not always be clear what constitutes a serious drug crime, however. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a drug offense case, the court discussed what constitutes a serious offense before affirming the defendant’s sentence. If you are accused of drug trafficking, it is imperative to meet with a Tampa drug crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the defendant entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and other offenses. The trial court sentenced the defendant to ninety months in prison to be followed by four years of supervised release. The court, in determining the defendant was an armed career criminal, relied on three prior state law convictions for “serious drug offenses.” Specifically, it looked at his convictions for delivery of cocaine, possession or cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, and conspiracy to traffic cocaine. The defendant appealed.

Serious Drug Offenses Under Federal Law

On appeal, the defendant contested the classification of his conviction for conspiracy under state law as a “serious drug offense,” arguing three points challenging the nature of the offense and its federal implications. Continue Reading ›

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