Articles Posted in Armed Robbery

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.

black gun

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.

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The right to an attorney is a crucial part of the American criminal justice system. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the groundbreaking Miranda case, made clear that criminal suspects have the right not to talk to cops without a lawyer by their side. As Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal recently explained, police officers can’t try to get a person to change their mind once the person has invoked his or her Miranda rights.

gun and moneyA defendant was charged with three counts of armed robbery and one count of assault while he was already in jail on unrelated crimes. An investigating officer approached him, looking for information about an armed robbery in Broward County. Two weeks later, the defendant and another man were transferred to the Broward Country Sheriff’s Office for questioning as suspects in the armed robbery. An officer tried to go over a form with the defendant, waiving his Miranda rights, when the defendant asked:  “They sending me a lawyer?” The officer said the defendant could stop the interview at any time. He also showed him photos of other suspects in the case. “They’re talking,” the officer said. “First one talks, deals.”

The defendant was left in the interrogation room for several hours. He was forced to urinate in the room after asking unsuccessfully to use the bathroom. When a police officer brought the defendant food, he told him:  “I know you asked for your attorney; I’m not going to talk to you, but I’m going to let you know that you are being charged with armed robbery.” When the defendant later asked if he was in fact being charged with the crime, the officer said repeatedly “You want to talk to me?” until the defendant nodded his head. The officer went over the Miranda form with the defendant, during which he said he agreed to talk to the officer but also said “yeah” when asked whether he had previously requested an attorney. “You have. But you still want to make a statement with me, right?” the detective said. The defendant responded:  “Yeah.” The defendant eventually admitted to participating in the robbery. He was convicted on all four counts.

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