BB Gun or Handgun? Florida Supreme Court Weighs in on Armed Robbery Case

Florida criminal laws include quite a considerable number of lesser offenses when it comes to being charged with a crime. Getting a charge knocked down to a lesser offense can mean the difference between years behind bars and months in jail or simple probation, in some cases. The state Supreme Court recently took up a Florida robbery case that illustrates just how nuanced the legal arguments can be in determining whether a person convicted of a crime should be sentenced for a lesser offense.

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A defendant (D.D.) was convicted of two charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, which is a first-degree felony that can come with as much as 30 years behind bars, for his role in two alleged robberies in Florida. A state appeals court eventually ordered the trial judge to reduce the convictions to robbery with a weapon. The court explained that the evidence presented at trial showed only that one weapon was used in the robbery:  a handgun or a BB gun that looked a lot like the real thing.

Affirming the decision on further appeal, the Florida Supreme Court first noted that D.D. had never actually been charged with robbery with a deadly weapon. Instead, the court said that he had originally  been charged with robbery with a firearm. Since it was unclear whether the weapon involved was an actual handgun or a BB gun, the court held that the trial judge should have knocked the charge down to robbery with a weapon.

“The evidence that the object [D.D.] used in the robberies was, if not a firearm, a BB gun replica of a firearm—which [D.D.’s] juries clearly found to be a weapon—is sufficient to sustain convictions for robbery with a weapon,” the court said.

The court also distinguished D.D.’s case from recent decisions out of other Florida appeals courts in which various other defendants were found not to have possessed the firearm used in a carjacking and a robbery, respectively. In those two cases, the jury found affirmatively that the defendants did not use the firearms in question. In D.D.’s case, the question was whether he used a firearm or a BB gun, rather than whether he had used a weapon at all.

As a result, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed D.D.’s conviction for robbery with a weapon.

As this case shows, a number of complicated legal issues often come up in Florida criminal cases, making it crucial to retain aggressive defense counsel who knows the legal ropes.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a gun or other crime in Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced and caring attorney. Tampa gun crime lawyer Will Hanlon is a seasoned attorney who fights aggressively on behalf of clients charged with a wide range of criminal offenses. Call our offices at (813) 228-7095 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.

More blog posts:

Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Florida Criminal Cases

Constructive Possession in Florida Gun Crime Cases

When Can Cops Stop You on the Street in Florida?