While many people are aware of the protection afforded under the right against double jeopardy it is not always clear when double jeopardy applies and defendants are often convicted of more than one crime arising out of the same alleged act, in violation of double jeopardy. Recently, a Florida appellate court overturned a defendant’s conviction for grand theft auto, finding that it was precluded under double jeopardy due to his carjacking conviction. If you live in Tampa and are charged with grand theft or any other theft crime, it is important to protect your rights by retaining an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney who will present a tenacious defense on your behalf.
The Alleged Carjacking and Grand Theft Auto
Allegedly, in August of 2015, a man went up to a woman approaching her car and pointed a gun at her, telling her if she screamed, he would shoot her. The man took the woman’s phone and purse and then used her keys to steal her car. The woman reported the car as stolen, and the police spotted the car with a license plate reader. The police pursued the car with lights and sirens activated, but the vehicle did not stop until it crashed. The defendant exited the vehicle after the crash and fled on foot. After a pursuit he was detained and arrested.
It is reported that the defendant was subsequently charged with armed carjacking, robbery with a firearm, and aggravated fleeing. At a plea conference, the defendant pleaded no contest to all of the charges arising from the incident, and to a prior burglary charge. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to concurrent sentences of fifteen years’ imprisonment for the burglary, carjacking and robbery charges and one hundred and fourteen months for the grand theft auto and aggravated fleeing charges. The defendant then appealed.
Double Jeopardy Rights
On appeal, the court vacated the defendant’s conviction for grand theft auto on the grounds that it violated double jeopardy. The court explained that while a defendant’s double jeopardy rights would be violated if he or she is convicted of two separate crimes that require identical proof, double jeopardy does not prohibit more than one conviction when a defendant commits more than one criminal act. Further, the court explained that while a guilty plea typically precludes a double jeopardy argument, an exception applies when double jeopardy is clear from the face of the record and there is no evidence of a waiver of double jeopardy.
Here, the court found that grand theft auto was a lesser included offense of carjacking, because it had the same essential elements of carjacking. The alleged crimes involved one car that was taken on one occasion, and the offenses charged all arose out of that single act. Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for grand theft auto.
Consult a Seasoned Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Regarding your Case
The law protects criminal defendants from being convicted more than once for the same criminal act. If you are a Tampa resident charged with grand theft and another theft crime, it is important to consult a seasoned Tampa criminal defense attorney to prevent an unjust conviction that violates your double jeopardy rights. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney who can offer you an aggressive defense against the charges you face. Mr. Hanlon can be reached at 813-228-7095 or via the online form to schedule a conference.
More Blog Posts:
Prosecutors’ Burden of Proof in Florida Auto Theft Cases – VG v. State, December 20, 2017, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog