People convicted as juveniles and sentenced to more than twenty years in prison are entitled to a sentence review after they have been imprisoned for twenty years. The sentencing court is not required to orally advise the defendant of such rights or set forth information regarding the right to review in the sentencing order, however. As such, the failure to do so will not constitute an error, as explained in a recent Florida opinion issued in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction. If you are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tampa criminal defense attorney about what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Procedural History

It is reported that when the defendant was 16 years old, he was charged with multiple crimes after he allegedly attacked his foster mother. He was convicted on all counts. Prior to sentencing, he sought a downward sentence due to the fact that he needed specialized treatment for a medical condition. The state opposed the imposition of a departure sentence on the grounds that the defendant had a lengthy criminal past and his criminal conduct was escalating.

Allegedly, the court rejected the defendant’s request for a downward departure and sentenced him to a total of 35 years imprisonment. It did not mention the right to a sentence review or set forth anything about such rights in the written sentence. The defendant moved to correct a sentencing error, arguing that because he was a juvenile at the time of his conviction, he was entitled to judicial review after he completed twenty years of his sentence. His motion was deemed denied, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

Generally, Florida law dictates that crimes must be prosecuted within a certain amount of time. Thus, if the state fails to prosecute a person for an offense within the statute of limitations, it may waive the right to do so. Some offenses can be prosecuted at any time, however, as explained in a recent Florida ruling issued in a sexual battery case. If you are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer promptly.

History of the Case

It is reported that in January 2010, a 15-year-old girl reported to the police that a man with the same name as the defendant gave her alcohol and then raped her. She was transported to a medical facility where a vaginal swab was obtained using a sexual assault kit. Approximately three months later, Florida law enforcement determined that DNA obtained from the vaginal swab belonged to the appellant. He was arrested in March 2019 and charged with sexual battery. He was convicted, after which he moved to vacate his conviction on the grounds that the statute of limitations expired on the sexual battery offense. The court denied his motion, and he appealed.

In criminal cases, whether a defendant is found guilty typically hinges on the jury’s perception of them and the facts presented at trial. Thus, it is critical that the jury is comprised of impartial people who represent the defendant’s peers. If the prosecution uses a preemptory strike against a juror for impermissible reasons, therefore, it may violate the defendant’s constitutional rights. Recently, a Florida court discussed preemptory strikes of jurors in criminal matters in a case in which the defendant was convicted of murder and other crimes. If you are accused of murder or another violent offense, it is critical that you engage the services of a Tampa criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and accomplices robbed a pawn shop and then fled from the police. The defendant ultimately entered the victim’s home and then drove the victim’s car through the garage door. The police arrested the defendant and then found the two victims murdered within the home.

The defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including two counts of first-degree murder. During the selection of jurors, the state used one of its preemptory strikes to remove a juror who, like the defendant, was black. The defendant’s attorney stated that the state’s reason for striking the juror was not sufficiently race-neutral. The defendant was convicted as charged. He then appealed. Continue Reading ›

While identity theft typically does not cause bodily harm, it is nonetheless a serious crime, and many people convicted of such offenses can spend years in prison. Regardless of the nature of an offense, though, the punishment imposed must be reasonable; otherwise, it may be overturned. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes an appropriate sentence for aggravated identity theft and other offenses in a case in which it rejected the defendant’s appeal. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Tampa theft crime defense lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Historical Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with aggravated identity theft and access device fraud in violation of federal law. He pled guilty to both charges pursuant to a written plea agreement. The facts in the plea agreement indicated that the defendant obtained personal identifying data from over 100 victims and then used the data to access dormant credit cards or obtain new cards.

Reportedly, he then used the cards in stores throughout the country and sold the materials he purchased with the cards on the internet. The total financial losses caused by the theft exceeded $650,000. The court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, following the magistrate’s recommendation. It ultimately imposed a sentence of 96 months imprisonment, which was above the range set forth in the sentencing guidelines. The defendant appealed. Among other things, he argued that the sentence was unreasonable. Continue Reading ›

Florida courts generally use sentencing guidelines when determining what constitutes an appropriate penalty for a criminal conviction. The courts have discretion with regard to sentencing in some instances, however. For example, if they deem a defendant a violent career criminal, they can impose sentencing enhancement. They can only do so in cases in which the defendant meets the criteria to qualify as a violent criminal, however. In a recent Florida ruling, a court discussed whether the crime of battery on a person over the age of 65 is a qualifying offense, ultimately ruling that it is not. If you are charged with battery or any other violent crime, it is smart to talk to a Tampa violent crime defense lawyer about your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, which was a felony. During sentencing, the judge determined that the defendant met the criteria to be sentenced as a violent career criminal due to his prior convictions for aggravated assault and battery of a person over the age of 65. Pertinent to the subject case, the sentencing judge found that the crime of battery of a person over the age of 65 constituted a qualifying offense because it was a felony battery. He then sentenced the defendant to fifteen years in prison. The defendant appealed

Violent Career Criminal Sentencing Enhancements

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in deeming him a violent career criminal because the offense of battery on a person over the age of 65 was not a forcible felony for purposes of violent career criminal sentencing. The state did not disagree with the defendant’s argument. Instead, it acknowledged a prior ruling issued by the Florida Supreme Court in which battery crimes that did not necessarily involve violence or physical force could not be considered forceable felonies. Continue Reading ›

First-degree murder is one of the most serious crimes the State can charge a person with, and a conviction has the potential to result in a death sentence. Generally, the State must prove that certain aggravating factors were present during the commission of a homicide crime for a person to be sentenced to death. The State’s burden in seeking the death penalty was the topic of a recent Florida opinion in a case in which the defendant appealed his death sentence after following first-degree murder convictions. If you are charged with a violent crime, it is critical to speak to a seasoned Tampa criminal defense attorney to assess your potential defenses.

The Trial and Sentencing

It is reported that the defendant and the victim, his ex-girlfriend, were estranged, and the defendant was subject to a restraining order that prohibited him from contacting the victim. He suspected that she was dating another man, and he ransacked her home while she was out. She called the police but declined to press charges. The following day, he attended a hearing on another criminal matter, then called the victim and spoke to her for several minutes.

Allegedly, the defendant then proceeded to buy ammunition, travel to the victim’s home, and shot the victim and one of her friends who was in the home with her. He attempted to shoot her boyfriend and another friend as well. He was charged with and convicted of multiple first-degree murder crimes and sentenced to death for each murder. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in instructing om and finding the murder was committed in a calculated, cold, and premeditated matter which constituted an aggravating factor and lead to his death sentence. Continue Reading ›

People convicted of crimes often believe they have no further recourse. In some cases, however, they may have grounds for arguing that their conviction should be vacated. They must do so within the time constraints established by law, however, otherwise, their request may be denied as untimely, as illustrated in a recent Florida ruling in which the court denied a defendant’s request to vacate his bank fraud and identity theft convictions. If you are accused of committing a white collar crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should consult a Tampa white collar crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was indicted by a federal jury for aiding and abetting bank fraud and aiding and abetting identity theft. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the identity theft offense via a plea agreement; as part of the agreement, he waived the right to appeal his sentence. The defendant was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Over two years later, he filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence.

Timeliness of Post-Conviction Motions

The court ultimately denied the defendant’s motion as untimely. The court explained that pursuant to the AEDPA (the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act), a person serving a sentence in a federal prison can move to correct, vacate, or set aside their sentence within a one-year period. Continue Reading ›

Criminal defendants will typically try to obtain any evidence that they can offer in their defense prior to proceeding to trial. Despite their best efforts, however, they may not be able to unearth all evidence in their favor until after their conviction. Fortunately, the law permits people convicted of criminal offenses to seek postconviction relief if they discover new evidence after the completion of their trial. Recently, a Florida court discussed postconviction claims based on new evidence in a case in which the defendant was convicted of battery. If you are charged with battery or another violent offense, it is smart to meet with a Tampa violent crime defense lawyer to discuss your potential defenses.

Factual Background

It is reported that in 2007, the defendant was convicted of battery, which was a misdemeanor, and aggravated battery causing significant bodily harm using a weapon, which was a felony. As he was a prison releasee reoffender, he was sentenced to thirty years in prison for the felony offense. In 2022, he filed a motion for postconviction relief based on newly discovered evidence. The court summarily denied his motion, after which he appealed.

Postconviction Relief Due to Newly Discovered Evidence

On appeal, the court found that the court erred in denying the defendant’s motion without considering the defendant’s evidence. As such, it reversed the underlying ruling and remanded the matter to the lower court for an evidentiary hearing. The court explained that it reviewed summary denials of claims for postconviction relief de novo. Continue Reading ›

The United States Constitution includes numerous provisions that protect criminal defendants. Among other things, it dictates that they must be mentally competent before they can be tried for a criminal offense. Thus, if a criminal matter proceeds to trial despite concerns regarding a defendant’s mental competence, it may constitute a violation of their constitutional rights. Recently a Florida court explained what evidence a defendant must produce to show that a trial court harbored a bona fide doubt about their competence in a case in which the defendant appealed his sentence following his conviction for producing child pornography.  If you are charged with a sex offense, it is smart to meet with a dedicated Tampa sex crime defense lawyer to evaluate your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with two counts of producing child pornography. The case proceeded to trial, and he was convicted. The court subsequently sentenced him to 720 months in prison. The defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court committed an abuse of discretion by denying his motion to undergo a competency evaluation and hearing.

Establishing a Bona Fide Doubt About a Defendant’s Mental Competence

The court declined to adopt the defendant’s reasoning and denied his appeal. In doing so, it explained that it reviewed a district court’s failure to order a competency hearing under the abuse of discretion standard. Continue Reading ›

It is not uncommon for a person to be charged with multiple crimes following a single criminal episode. While the government can convict a person for more than one offense after one criminal transaction, it cannot violate their protections against double jeopardy. Thus, if their convictions constitute multiple convictions for the same crime, they may be unlawful. Recently, a Florida court assessed whether a defendant’s convictions for burglary and grand theft of a motor vehicle violated double jeopardy, ultimately ruling that it did not. If you are charged with a theft crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak to a skilled Tampa theft charge defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant, a juvenile, was charged with burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and grand theft of a vehicle. The charges against him stemmed from a single incident. An adjudicatory hearing was held, after which the court determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the charged offenses. The defendant appealed, arguing that because burglary was a lesser included offense of grand theft of a motor vehicle, his convictions violated double jeopardy.

Assessing Whether Multiple Convictions Violate Double Jeopardy

The court disagreed with the defendant’s arguments and affirmed his convictions. The court explained that the dispositive issue in determining whether multiple convictions arising from the same criminal transaction violate double jeopardy is whether the legislature intended to authorize separate penalties for the two crimes. Continue Reading ›

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