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 ›

The Florida and United States Constitutions protect criminal defendants from being convicted more than once for a single offense. Protections against double jeopardy do not prevent multiple convictions for a single sex crime that impacts multiple victims, though, as a Florida court recently clarified. If you are charged with committing an illegal sex act, it is smart to talk to a Tampa sex crime defense attorney about your rights.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious exhibition in the presence of a correctional facility employee. The evidence presented during the trial established that the defendant intentionally engaged in lewd behavior within his cell and that he was visible to two mental health staff members of the correctional facility. The jury convicted the defendant, after which he appealed.

Double Jeopardy for Multiple Sex Crime Convictions

On appeal, the defendant contended that his convictions violated the prohibition against double jeopardy, asserting that the relevant statute, which criminalized intentional lewd acts in the presence of employees at a county detention facility, did not allow for multiple convictions for a single lewd act performed in the presence of multiple employees. Continue Reading ›

In many criminal matters,  the prosecution lacks direct evidence that the defendant committed the crime in question. While prosecutors can use circumstantial evidence to demonstrate a defendant’s guilt, they must abide by any applicable rules of evidence. Recently, a Florida court examined when witness opinion testimony can be introduced in a criminal trial, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of murder and other charges. If you are accused of a violent crime, it is wise to meet with a Tampa violent crime defense attorney to assess your possible defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant faced numerous charges, including second-degree murder with a firearm, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and aggravated assault with a firearm. The charges stemmed from a dispute between the defendant’s family and the victim’s family, culminating in a confrontation at a local park. Earlier animosity arose from the defendant’s sister’s past relationship with the victim. A Snapchat conversation between the defendant and the victim led to an agreement for a fistfight to settle their differences. On the night of the incident, the defendant drove to the park armed with an AR-15 rifle. A heated argument ensued, and the defendant fired multiple shots from his vehicle, resulting in the death of the victim and injuries to others present.

Allegedly, the evidence presented during the trial included testimonies from witnesses, forensic analysis, and the defendant’s own account. The court noted that the defendant claimed self-defense, asserting that he shot at the victim to prevent an imminent threat. Witnesses provided conflicting accounts, with some supporting the defendant’s version and others disputing it. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred by allowing a witness to opine on the reasonableness of the defendant’s use of deadly force. Continue Reading ›

It is not uncommon for people to be charged with DUI crimes following alcohol-induced crashes. While the police are permitted to investigate collisions without warrants, it is not always clear what constitutes a crash and, therefore, grounds for conducting an investigation.  In a recent Florida opinion, a court clarified what is considered a crash for the purposes of DUI investigations in a case in which it ultimately determined the defendant’s arrest was lawful. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tampa DUI defense lawyer to evaluate what steps you can take to protect your interests.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that a police officer responded to a report of a traffic crash and found the defendant’s overturned pickup truck in a ditch. The defendant, standing nearby, exhibited signs of alcohol impairment. Despite no evidence of the truck colliding with another vehicle or structure, the officer initiated a DUI investigation. The defendant’s truck, which was damaged with a broken headlight, was towed, during which it was revealed it contained numerous alcohol containers. The officer subsequently arrested the defendant for DUI. Chemical testing revealed his BAC to be over .15.

Allegedly, the defendant moved to suppress the results of his chemical testing and any evidence obtained during the investigation, arguing that his overturned truck did not constitute a crash and, therefore, his arrest was invalid. The court granted his motion, and the state appealed. Continue Reading ›

It is axiomatic that under state and federal law, a person cannot be charged with or convicted for the same crime more than once, as doing so would violate their protections against double jeopardy. Merely because a person is convicted of violating a specific statute more than once does not necessarily mean that their rights have been violated, however, as illustrated in a recent Florida ruling issued in a drug crime case in which the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction. If you are faced with accusations that you committed a drug-related crime, it is wise to contact a Tampa drug crime defense lawyer regarding what steps you can take to protect your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was convicted in 2016 of four counts related to the possession and distribution of heroin. His PSI categorized him as a career offender based on multiple previous felony convictions for controlled substance crimes, including two convictions for the sale of cocaine in violation of Florida law and one conviction for conspiracy to possess cocaine and cocaine base with intent to distribute in violation of federal law. The defendant objected to these calculations during sentencing, arguing that he was being charged for the same cocaine convictions multiple times, raising a double jeopardy claim.

It is alleged that in the district court affirmed the PSI’s calculations, and his sentence was upheld on direct appeal. In 2022 the defendant filed a Rule 36 motion, contending that his prior state and federal cocaine convictions should be scored as a single offense for the purposes of calculating his criminal history in relation to his 2016 heroin conviction. The trial court denied his motion, which led to the current appeal.

Continue Reading ›

It is not uncommon for the prosecution to rely on circumstantial evidence to attempt to establish a defendant’s guilt in Florida sex crime cases. While both circumstantial evidence is admissible, the prosecution is generally precluded from introducing evidence of the defendant’s prior bad acts to demonstrate their guilt for their current charges. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, that will allow the courts to introduce evidence of child molestation and evidence of other crimes in sex crime cases, as discussed in a recent Florida opinion. If you are charged with a sex-related offense, it is prudent to meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer about what defenses you may be able to set forth.

Procedural and Factual Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with child pornography offenses. The defendant’s criminal history includes prior convictions, notably in 1998 for Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree in Michigan, a misdemeanor involving unlawful sexual contact, and Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Michigan in 2000. Furthermore, in 2003, the defendant was indicted for and later convicted of possessing child pornography. Prior to his trial, he filed a Motion in Limine to preclude the introduction of evidence regarding his prior convictions, including his child pornography conviction, which the Government opposed.

Admissibility of Evidence Regarding Prior Crimes

The court ultimately denied the defendant’s motion. Prior to doing so, it considered whether the evidence of the defendant’s 2004 conviction for possession of child pornography was admissible. The Government argued that this evidence could be introduced under Federal Rule of Evidence 414 (permitting evidence of child molestation) and Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) (allowing evidence of other crimes or acts for specific purposes). Rule 414 defines “child molestation” to include any acts prohibited by 18 U.S.C. Chapter 110, which includes possession and distribution of child pornography. Continue Reading ›

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