Articles Posted in Evidence

In Florida, people convicted of sex crimes generally are required to register as sex offenders; if they fail to, they may face additional charges. Notably, people can be required to register as sex offenders if they are convicted of sexual offenses that require registration in other states. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes an offense requiring registration in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for failing to register. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is important to meet with a Tampa sex crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with failing to register as a sex offender. The defendant moved for acquittal, but his motion was denied. A jury subsequently found him guilty as charged. The defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to establish that he was required to register as a sex offender.

Crimes Requiring Sex Offender Registration

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that to establish culpability for failing to register as a sex offender, the State was required to demonstrate that the defendant was convicted of a sexual offense that required registration. In order to meet this burden, the State offered evidence at trial that the defendant was found guilty of oral copulation with the use of force in California. Continue Reading ›

At both the state and federal levels, sentencing guidelines set forth what constitutes an appropriate sentence for certain offenses. The courts are not bound by the guidelines, though, and can issue a sentence that is greater or lesser than that suggested. In doing so, the court must abide by certain procedural rules, and if it fails to, the defendant may have grounds for challenging the sentence. Recently, a Florida court examined whether a court violated a defendant’s rights in issuing a sentence that represented an upward variance for a gun crime, ultimately determining that it did not. If you are accused of unlawfully possessing a weapon, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa weapons crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty, after which he was sentenced to unlawfully possessing a firearm as a felon. Although his advisory guidelines range was calculated as 21 to 27 months’ imprisonment, the court sentenced him to 50 months. The defendant appealed.

Sentence Variances in Florida Criminal Cases

On appeal, the defendant argued that his sentence constituted an upward departure rather than an upward variance. The court disagreed, however, ruling that the defendant’s sentence was an upward variance based on the trial court’s stated reasons for imposing it. Specifically, the court found that the trial court did not refer to a departure provision and that the grounds the trial court gave for the sentence were based on the factors outlined in the imposition of a sentence law. Thus, the court declined to adopt the defendant’s arguments that the trial court erred in failing to comply with established procedures for imposing an upward departure. 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 ›

 Pursuant to Florida law, courts can impose greater penalties on people who are convicted of crimes if they were previously incarcerated. Only certain offenses allow for the imposition of increased sentences, though, and if a court improperly interprets the sentencing laws, the sentence imposed may be illegal. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the appellate court reversed a trial court ruling denying a defendant’s motion for resentencing. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to understand what sentences you may face if convicted, and you should speak to a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and convicted of numerous crimes, including burglary of a conveyance with battery or assault. After the trial court imposed its sentence, the defendant moved to amend it, arguing that it was illegal in that he was improperly sentenced as a prison releasee reoffender in violation of Florida law. The trial court denied his motion, after which the defendant appealed. The appellate court summarily affirmed the trial court’s decision, and the defendant moved for a rehearing.

DUI manslaughter charges are frequently filed against people who drive recklessly while inebriated and cause the death of another person. Further, such charges may be brought even if it is not immediately evident that drunk driving caused the collision and consequent loss of life. In such cases, a DUI defendant may be able to argue that the prosecution has not shown enough evidence to prove guilt. In a recent Florida decision, the court considered what evidence the state needs present to prove that a motorist was driving while intoxicated and caused a fatal accident. If you’ve been charged with DUI manslaughter, it is wise to speak to a knowledgeable Florida DUI defense attorney about your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

According to reports, the defendant was traveling on the back of his ATV with his son. They were traveling on a country road with poor visibility and no shoulder. The ATV tipped over into a ditch at 9:00 p.m. The defendant was able to return the ATV to the road, and he and his son climbed on and attempted to start it. Witnesses nearby attempted to warn a truck approaching the ATV to slow down and encourage the defendant and his son to get off of the road.

It is alleged that a truck collided with the ATV, killing the defendant’s child and seriously wounding the defendant, who was flown to the hospital. The defendant admitted to drinking, and a blood test revealed that his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was. 16. After a trial, he was found guilty of DUI manslaughter. He filed an appeal, claiming that the State had failed to present enough evidence to prove his guilt. Continue Reading ›

A criminal record can inhibit a person’s ability to obtain housing and employment and often impacts relationships as well. As such, many people who have been convicted of crimes contemplate whether they may be able to have their records expunged. Expunging a record can allow people to live their lives as if they had never been convicted, but the process can be complicated, and it is smart for anyone seeking an expungement to consult an attorney. If you have a criminal conviction that you are interested in having expunged, it is prudent to speak to a capable Tampa criminal defense attorney to determine your options.

Eligibility for Expungement

Florida Statutes Section 943.0585 establishes the criteria a person must meet to have an adult or juvenile criminal history record expunged by a court. Specifically, section 943.0585 provides that a person may petition a court to expunge a criminal history record if no information, indictment, or charging document was filed in the subject case, or if any of the aforementioned were filed, the charges were dismissed, nolle prosequi, or if the person was acquitted or found not guilty. The person seeking expungement must not have been found guilty or adjudicated delinquent for any felony or certain misdemeanors either.

Section 943.0585 also provides that a person must apply for a certificate of eligibility for expungement from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement prior to petitioning the court. The Department will issue a certificate of eligibility if the person satisfies the criteria and submits a certified written statement from the appropriate state attorney or prosecutor confirming the criminal history record meets the statutory requirements, a certified copy of the charge, and the processing fee. A certificate is valid for 12 months after it is issued. Continue Reading ›

Judges have a duty to be fair and impartial when presiding over criminal matters, but many judges harbor implicit or explicit biases. A judge’s prejudices may make it difficult or impossible to receive a fair trial, but fortunately, parties that suspect a judge of being biased can file a motion for disqualification. Recently, a Florida court issued a ruling describing the grounds for granting such a motion in a case in which the defendant argued the court erred in denying his motion due to the judge’s conduct during his competency hearing. If you are accused of a crime, it is important to know your rights, and it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Competency Hearing

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with committing numerous crimes. Prior to trial, a hearing was held to determine the defendant’s competency. The State argued that the defendant was competent, while the defendant’s attorney argued he was not. Three expert witnesses testified regarding the defendant’s competency. The judge asked each witness regarding the information in his report. The witness who found the defendant to be incompetent stated he based his report on information from defense counsel, and the court discredited his testimony.

It is reported that the court asked if the defendant’s attorney wanted to call the defendant to the stand. She declined, after which the court stated it might be helpful for the court. The defendant then answered questions from the court about the medications he was taking and his ability to work with counsel. The court then deemed the defendant competent to stand trial, after which the defendant filed a motion to disqualify. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

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Florida Court Discusses the Admission of Evidence in Criminal Matters

In many criminal cases, the State lacks direct evidence that the defendant committed a crime. Thus, in such instances, the State will rely on circumstantial evidence to build a case against the defendant. While circumstantial evidence is generally admissible, it must bear a connection to either the defendant or the charged offense, and irrelevant evidence that is improperly admitted may lead the jury to issue an unjust verdict. This was shown in a recent Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple crimes due to a glove found in his sister’s van several days after the alleged criminal acts. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to know your rights, and you should speak with a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Alleged Crime and Trial

It is reported that two men broke into the home of the victim, held her at gunpoint, and ransacked her house. The victim was then struck in the head with a gun and shot. After the perpetrators left, she went to a nearby salon and called 911. During the course of the investigation of the crime, the defendant was named as a suspect, and the victim identified the defendant as the man who shot her. He was then charged with attempted second-degree murder and numerous other offenses.

Reportedly, there was no direct evidence linking the defendant to the crime. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress evidence of a glove that was found in a van owned by his sister, which was one of the only pieces of evidence that could potentially implicate him. The court denied the motion, and the defendant was found guilty on all charges. He then appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress.

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In many Florida sex crime cases there is no direct evidence that a crime was committed. Instead the State relies on circumstantial evidence and victim and eyewitness testimony to establish its case against a defendant. Thus, if a witness in a sex crime case recants his or her testimony, it may necessitate a new trial. A Florida appellate court recently analyzed when the recantation of testimony is grounds for a new trial in a case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple sex crimes. If you are a Tampa resident charged with any sex crime, including sexual battery, it is vital to engage a skillful Tampa sex crime defense attorney to aid you in formulating a defense.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with several sex crimes, including indecent assault, sexual battery, and lewd and lascivious molestation. Following a trial, he was convicted on all charges. The alleged victim’s older sister, who was one of the State’s witnesses, recanted her testimony by stating in an affidavit that she advised a third sister the defendant was innocent. The third sister also signed an affidavit in which she stated that the recanting witness advised her that the defendant was innocent, but she was being pressured by detectives to testify on behalf of the State. The defendant subsequently filed a motion for post-conviction relief, based on numerous grounds including the recanted testimony. The trial court denied his motion. The defendant then appealed.

Impact of Recantation of Testimony

Under Florida law, the recantation of testimony is regarded as exceedingly unreliable. Thus, if a witness for the State recants his or her testimony, a new trial is only required if the court finds that the recantation is truthful and that the witness’s testimony will change so drastically that it would likely cause a different verdict to be rendered.
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The Florida statutes allow for a court to order a minor convicted of a crime to pay restitution for any damages caused by the crime. The State must show a significant link between the damages alleged and the restitution ordered for restitution to be proper, however.

This was explained in a recent case in which a Florida appellate court overturned a trial court order for restitution, finding the State had not produced sufficient evidence of a causal connection between the damages sought and the defendant’s conduct. If you are a juvenile living in Tampa and you are currently facing criminal charges, you should retain a trusted Tampa criminal defense attorney to assist you in formulating a defense that will provide you with a good chance of a favorable outcome under the circumstances. 

Facts of the Case 

It is reported that the defendant, a minor, was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle. He entered into a plea agreement with the State, in which he pled to the lesser included offense of trespass of a conveyance and agreed to pay restitution. As such, the court ordered restitution with the specific amount to be determined at a later date. At a hearing to determine the restitution amount, the owner of the car testified that the car was in perfect condition prior to the theft, but had extensive damage when it was returned. The State presented an expert who testified that the estimated cost to repair the damage was $3,310.37. The defendant’s attorney argued that the State had failed to produce evidence showing that the damage alleged was caused by the defendant. The court disagreed, ordering the defendant to pay $3,310.37 in restitution. The defendant appealed.

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