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 ›

When a person is convicted of a crime, the court will often not only sentence them to prison but also require them to make restitution. Criminal defendants and the state frequently disagree over what constitutes reasonable recompense, however. This was illustrated in a recent child pornography case in Florida, where the defendant challenged a $10,000 reparation award to the victim. If you’ve been charged with a child pornography crime, it is in your best interest to speak with a Florida criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

According to reports, the defendant was found guilty of possessing child pornography. He was sentenced to pay $10,000 in compensation to the victim of his crime after his conviction. He filed an appeal, claiming that the amount of compensation awarded did not accurately reflect his role in the victim’s injury, and requesting a new hearing on the restitution decision. The defendant’s request was denied by the appellate court, which upheld the lower court’s decision.

In some criminal matters, the State has little or no direct evidence. Instead, the State’s case against the defendant will be dependent on circumstantial evidence. While circumstantial evidence is frequently accepted, hearsay evidence is not. As a result, a conviction based on hearsay evidence may be subject to reversal, as indicated by a recent Florida judgement in a case where the defendant was convicted of multiple counts of possessing child pornography. If you are suspected of possessing child pornography or any other offense, you should consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to determine your legal options.

The Trial of the Defendant

It is alleged that the defendant was detained and charged with 300 counts of having child pornography. A search warrant was used to gather evidence from his personal computer, which led to his arrest. Hash values are used to detect pornographic photographs of children that are stored in a national database, according to the digital forensic technician who analyzed his device at his trial. Three hundred pornographic images of minors were discovered on the defendant’s computer using this technology.

The digital forensic technician allegedly stated that he was able to identify the majority of the photographs as child pornography without using the hash values assigned to them, but that he couldn’t tell if the person depicted in one image was a child. Nonetheless, the State charged the defendant based on his opinion that a hash value applied to the photograph identified it as child pornography. After being found guilty on all three hundred counts, the defendant filed an appeal, claiming that his conviction was founded on a hearsay testimony that the photograph in question was pornographic. Continue Reading ›

Both Florida law and the United States Constitution guarantee the right to a speedy trial to criminal defendants. It may be grounds for dismissal if a court violates this right by failing to try a person for a crime in a timely way, but not all delays will be considered a violation of a person’s rights. A recent Florida decision, in which the court refused a defendant’s appeal based on an alleged breach of his right to a speedy trial, addressed the question of what delays are acceptable. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer about your options.

Charges Against the Defendant

According to reports, the defendant was arrested by a police officer in November 2019 for an accident that occurred in June 2019. In December of this year, he was booked with two DUI counts. Then, in June 2020, one of the crash victims passed away. As a result, the State changed the information a week later, reclassifying one of the DUI offenses as manslaughter.

The defendant then allegedly filed a motion to have the manslaughter charges against him dismissed, claiming that the State had violated his right to a speedy trial under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and that the new charges should be dismissed because they were filed after the applicable time period had passed. He further asserted that he would have been tried before the death of the victim if the COVID-19 epidemic had not occurred. His motion was refused by the court, which ruled that the quick trial regulation had been suspended due to the pandemic. The defendant then filed an appeal. Continue Reading ›

Generally, the Government cannot introduce evidence that a person previously was convicted of a crime prove a person’s character to demonstrate that they acted in accordance with that character on a specific occasion. In other words, proof a person committed a crime on a prior occasion cannot be used to establish guilt in a current criminal proceeding. Evidence of other crimes and bad acts can be introduced for other purposes, however. In a recent opinion issued in a drug crime case, a Florida court discussed the grounds for admissibility of evidence of other crimes. If you are charged with a drug offense, you should confer with a Tampa drug crime defense lawyer to discuss what evidence the Government is permitted to use against you.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with multiple drug crimes arising out of his alleged conspiracy to possess methamphetamines. The defendant’s coconspirator pleaded guilty, while the defendant entered a not guilty plea. The Government sought to introduce the defendant’s two prior convictions for possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute at trial. The defendant moved to preclude the evidence as proof of other crimes, wrongs, and bad acts pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b).

Admissibility of Other Crime Evidence

Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) prohibits parties from using evidence of other acts, crimes, or wrongs to establish a person’s nature and to show that they acted in accord with that nature in a particular instance. Such evidence may be admissible for other purposes, though. Specifically, it can be used to show intent, motive, plan, knowledge, and identity, among other things. Continue Reading ›

In 2018, the Florida Supreme Court promulgated a schedule of lesser included offenses. Recently, the court answered the certified question of whether it erred in classifying sexual battery as a necessarily lesser include offense of capital sexual battery, ultimately determining that it did. The court set forth its conclusion in an opinion issued in a Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of both capital sexual battery and sexual battery. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is advisable to meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer to assess what defenses you may be able to assert in pursuit of a favorable outcome.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with one count of lewd exhibition and three counts of sexual battery, arising out of elicit contact he had with his ex-girlfriend’s daughter when the daughter was between nine and fifteen years old. The victim testified at trial, reporting the acts occurred on over twenty different occasions, but three stood out in particular: once when she was 9, once when she was 11, and once when she was 13.

Allegedly, after the evidence was introduced at trial, the defendant requested that the court instruct the jury on the sexual battery as a necessarily lesser included offense of capital sexual battery. At that time, the schedule of lesser included offenses did, in fact, list sexual battery as a necessarily lesser included offense of sexual battery. The State objected to the instruction, arguing it was illogical. The court agreed and denied the request. The defendant was convicted, and he appealed. The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling and certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court. Continue Reading ›

The Florida courts will often sentence people convicted of federal crimes to lengthy prison terms. In some instances, though, a court will impose a more lenient penalty and sentence a person to probation. Offenders on probation must comply with the terms of their release, and if they do not, they may face significant penalties, including imprisonment. Recently, a Florida court discussed factors weighed in determining whether a sentence imposed after revocation of probation is reasonable in a case in which the defendant was sentenced to eleven months in prison. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation, it is smart to meet with an experienced Tampa probation violation defense lawyer to evaluate your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud and participating in a tax fraud scheme. He entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to five years of probation. While on probation, he tested positive for marijuana, missed numerous drug tests and counseling sessions, and failed to report to his probation officer. Thus, the State moved for revocation of his probation.

Allegedly, during the revocation hearing, he asked for a second chance, which the court granted despite its reservations. The defendant tested positive for narcotics numerous times over the next five months. Subsequently, the district court revoked his probation and sentenced him to eleven months in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release. The defendant appealed, arguing his sentence was unreasonable. Continue Reading ›

In recognition of the fact that certain sentencing guidelines resulted in disparate sentences for similar crimes, the United States legislature passed a set of laws that rendered people convicted of drug crimes involving crack cocaine eligible for reduced sentences. As discussed in a recent Florida ruling, though, mere eligibility is insufficient to demonstrate that such relief should be granted. If you were convicted of a drug offense, you might be eligible for a sentence reduction pursuant to recent changes in the law, and it is advisable to speak to a trusted Tampa drug crime defense lawyer about your options.

The Defendant’s Conviction

It is reported that in 2005, a jury convicted the defendant of numerous offenses, including possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. Due to his prior history of drug crimes and the quantity of crack cocaine in his possession, he was subject to a mandatory life sentence. The district court ultimately imposed a sentence of life plus fifteen years imprisonment, followed by ten years of supervised release. After Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010 and the First Step Act in 2018, the defendant moved to reduce his sentence. The trial court granted his motion in part, reducing his sentence to 420 months in prison followed by eight years of supervised release. The defendant appealed, arguing the court abused its discretion in not reducing his sentence further.

State and federal law generally preclude people convicted of felonies from owning weapons. As such, if a law enforcement agent finds a firearm in the possession of a convicted felon, it could lead to criminal charges. A person must be aware that he or she is a felon to be convicted of violating the federal law barring possession of a firearm by a felon.

Merely because an indictment for unlawful possession of a firearm fails to include the knowledge element of the offense does not mean the defendant was automatically prejudiced, though. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case, in which the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. If you are charged with a gun crime, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Tampa weapons crime defense lawyer to discuss your case.

The Defendant’s Indictment and Conviction

Allegedly, a police officer approached a group of people on a street corner when he saw one of the men point a gun at the crowd. A chase ensued, and the police eventually apprehended and arrested three men, including the defendant. The defendant was indicted for numerous offenses, including being a felon in possession of a gun. After he was indicted, the Supreme Court issued a ruling stating that a defendant must know he belongs to a class of people barred from owning firearms to be convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun.

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The United States Constitution affords people many rights. In particular, it grants numerous protections to criminal defendants, including the Eighth Amendment bar against cruel and unusual punishments. Thus, if a court sentences a person convicted of a crime to an extraordinarily harsh penalty, it may violate the person’s Constitutional rights. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in a case in which the defendant argued the sentence imposed for his conviction for receiving child pornography was unjust. If you are charged with a  sex crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer about your rights.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentence

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with one count of receiving child pornography. He entered a guilty plea, after which he was sentenced to 151 months in prison. He then appealed, arguing that his sentence was excessive and violated his Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, he argued it was disproportionate to the crime, excessive, an unduly harsh for a first-time offender who had no contact with the children involved in the crime.

What Constitutes a Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of punishments that are unusual and cruel contains a proportionality provision that only applies to non-capital sentences. The court noted that the Eighth Amendment does not require stringent proportionality between an offense and a sentence. Instead, it merely forbids extreme sentences that are grossly disproportionate to the offense in question. Continue Reading ›

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