It is not uncommon for the State to charge people with multiple crimes related to a theft scheme. While it is not unlawful to charge people with numerous offenses at one time, the protections against double jeopardy prohibit a person from being tried or convicted more than once for the same crime. As such, any conviction that violates a person’s protections against double jeopardy must be vacated, as demonstrated by a recent Florida decision issued in a theft case. If you are faced with theft charges, it is smart to confer with a St. Petersburg theft crime defense lawyer to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the two defendants were both employed by a health services company. The first defendant served as the chief operating officer, while the second defendant was the executive director. Charges stemmed from their involvement in back-billing Medicaid for services that were never provided to patients. Both were charged with Medicaid provider fraud and grand theft. Following a joint trial, the jury convicted the first defendant of Medicaid provider fraud and grand theft with a value below $20,000, while the jury convicted the second defendant of Medicaid provider fraud and grand theft with a value above $20,000.

Allegedly, both defendants moved to vacate their grand theft convictions based on double jeopardy grounds, arguing that all elements of grand theft were encompassed within Medicaid provider fraud. The court trial court agreed and granted the defendants’ motions. The State then appealed. Continue Reading ›

Under Florida law, people accused of committing crimes have the right to know the elements of the charged offense and the evidence the prosecution intends to introduce against them. As such, if the prosecution fails to provide them with such information and they are subsequently convicted, they may have grounds for pursuing an appeal. As illustrated in a recent Florida case, however, they must abide by the procedural rules, and if they fail to do so, their appeal will likely be denied. If you are accused of a violent offense, it is wise to meet with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense lawyer to develop a strategy for pursuing a good outcome.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with burglary of a structure with assault or battery but was convicted of the permissive lesser included offense of burglary of an occupied structure. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that dismissal was proper due to the state’s failure to provide him with discovery. The state had provided discovery for one of his other pending cases but not for the subject matter. At a hearing, the state explained the oversight, provided the defendant with additional discovery, and the trial court conducted a Richardson hearing to address the discovery violation. The trial court found a discovery violation but ruled it was not willful or intentional, offering the defendant additional time to prepare for trial, which he refused, insisting on a speedy trial.

Reportedly, during the trial, evidence showed that the defendant forcibly entered a business chased the owner’s stepdaughter inside, resulting in her injury. The trial court found him guilty of the lesser included offense of burglary of an occupied structure and sentenced him to fifteen years in prison. The defendant filed a motion to correct sentencing error, arguing that the information was insufficient to support the conviction. The trial court denied the motion, finding the information sufficient. The defendant appealed. Continue Reading ›

Florida courts do not regard fraud schemes as victimless crimes; as such, they often deliver lengthy sentences to people found guilty of fraud offenses. Such sentences will typically be upheld unless a defendant can demonstrate that they are either substantively or procedurally unreasonable. In a recent fraud case, a Florida court discussed the considerations weighed in determining if a sentence is unreasonable. If you are accused of committing fraud, it is in your best interest to talk to a St. Petersburg fraud scheme defense attorney to evaluate what course of action you can take to protect your interests.

Factual History and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that in 2019, the defendant was indicted on multiple federal charges related to identity theft and access device fraud. The indictment stemmed from incidents involving fraudulent purchases made at a department store using a stolen credit card. The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. The presentence investigation report (PSI) detailed additional instances of criminal conduct, including intercepting packages and engaging in fraudulent financial transactions.

Reportedly, the PSI also outlined the defendant’s prior criminal history, including convictions for similar offenses. At the sentencing hearing, the district court considered the defendant’s age, criminal history, and ongoing fraudulent behavior. Despite the defendant’s motion for a downward variance, the court imposed a total sentence of 30 months imprisonment, consisting of 6 months for conspiracy to commit access device fraud and a consecutive 24 months for aggravated identity theft. The defendant appealed, arguing her sentence was unreasonable. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, convictions for sex crimes typically result in substantial penalties. In some instances, a criminal defendant will try to seek a downward sentence by highlighting mitigating factors in their favor. The Florida courts are not required to reduce sentences due to such factors, though, as illustrated in a recent Florida case. If you are charged with sex offenses, it is wise to confer with a St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to determine your options.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with numerous sex crimes involving minors, including creating, distributing, and possessing child pornography and transferring obscene materials to a minor. He entered guilty pleas to all of his charges without a plea agreement. Prior to sentencing, a presentence investigation report (PSI) was prepared describing his conduct. Specifically, it noted that he created videos of children being sexually abused, distributed them, and attempted to meet with up someone he thought was a thirteen year old child.

Reportedly, the advisory guidelines range the defendant’s charges was set at the statutory maximum of 960 months’ imprisonment, with a statutory minimum term of 180 months’ imprisonment. The defendant sought a downward variance from the guideline range to the statutory minimum, citing his difficult personal background marked by his mother’s alcoholism, mental health issues, and struggles with substance abuse. He argued that his mitigating circumstances warranted a lower sentence. Continue Reading ›

Under Federal law, it is illegal for adults to engage in sexual activity with minors. As such, if an adult participates in a romantic relationship with a person under the age of 18, they may face serious criminal charges. As demonstrated in a recent opinion delivered in a Florida case in which the court discussed the evidence sufficient to sustain sex crime convictions, people may be found guilty regardless of whether they intended to commit the crime with which they are charged. If you are faced with accusations that you committed a sex crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a St. Petersburg sex crime defense lawyer regarding your case.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the victim ran away from home when she was 16 years old and began trading sex for money. She met the defendant when she was 17, and shortly thereafter, they began a romantic relationship. They traveled together, and during one of their trips, the defendant took a picture of them engaging in sexual relations. The defendant also, essentially, began acting as the victim’s pimp.

It is reported that the defendant became jealous that the victim had sexual relations with other people, and the situation became violent. The victim called the police on the defendant, who was arrested and charged with numerous crimes, including producing child pornography and sex trafficking a minor. The jury found the defendant guilty of all the charges, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, the State will often charge a person with a crime via an information. The information must set forth details regarding the alleged offense, including the date when it was committed. If the information contains inaccurate details, the State may be granted leave to amend it, as discussed in a recent battery case. If you are faced with charges of battery or another violent crime, it is advisable to speak with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense lawyer to determine your rights.

Procedural Setting of the Case

It is alleged that the State of Florida appealed an order dismissing its information charging the defendant with battery. The original information alleged that the defendant committed a battery on February 7, 2020, in Tampa during a Super Bowl tailgating party. However, during trial, the State recognized an error in the date and sought to amend the information to reflect the correct date of the alleged offense as February 7, 2021. The defendant opposed the amendment, asserting that the defense would be prejudiced because it had prepared for trial based on the incorrect date. The trial court denied the State’s request to amend and, instead, granted the defendant’s oral motion to dismiss. A written order of dismissal was subsequently entered.

White-collar crimes, such as health care fraud, rarely cause bodily harm. That does not mean that they are not prosecuted as severely as violent crimes, however, as their convictions for fraud offenses often result in significant fines and prison sentences. As discussed in a recent Florida case, such penalties are often directly correlated to the financial losses caused by the offense. If you are charged with a fraud offense, it is prudent to talk to a St. Petersburg white-collar crime defense attorney to determine your options.

Case Fact and Procedure

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, and money laundering in violation of federal law. The charges stem from fraudulent activities associated with a Florida substance abuse treatment center and sober home owned by the defendant and another person. The government presented evidence that the defendant and the other person engaged in a scheme to defraud insurance companies by submitting false claims for urinalysis and treatment.

Pursuant to federal law, the act of garnishing a firearm to commit a crime of violence is an indictable offense. In order to convict a person of such a crime, the prosecution must establish, among other things, that the underlying crime in question constitutes a violent offense. Recently, a Florida court explained what is considered a violent felony under Florida law in a case in which it ultimately affirmed the defendant’s conviction. If you are accused of a violent crime, it is wise to confer with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney about your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including assault with a dangerous weapon in violation of the federal VICAR (violent crimes in aid of racketeering) statute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and multiple drug crimes. The government presented evidence during the trial that the defendant and his codefendants were members of a narcotics dealers’ group operating as a criminal organization from 2008 to 2014 and that they had committed an armed robbery, discharging a firearm during their escape.

Allegedly, the defendant moved for an acquittal after the conclusion of the prosecution’s case. The court denied the motion, and the jury found the defendant guilty as charged. The defendant then filed a motion to vacate his conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Continue Reading ›

In Florida criminal matters, defendants typically only have one chance to demonstrate set forth evidence in support of their innocence or point out flaws in the prosecution’s arguments. There are exceptions, though, such as when new evidence is discovered after a conviction that would have changed the outcome of the case. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes newly discovered evidence for the purposes of vacating a criminal conviction in a case in which the jury convicted the defendant of sex crimes. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is smart to speak to a St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to evaluate your possible defenses.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in 2001, a jury convicted the defendant of charges related to lewd and lascivious acts with a child. Subsequently, in 2014, the defendant filed his first postconviction motion, alleging that his trial counsel had misadvised him to reject a plea offer from the State. The postconviction court denied relief, and this decision was affirmed on appeal.

Reportedly, in 2020, the defendant filed a second postconviction motion, alleging newly discovered evidence of ineffective assistance of counsel based on an affidavit from the judge who presided over the defendant’s 2001 trial. In the affidavit, the judge claimed that he had heard a plea offer in open court that was not conveyed to the defendant. The post-conviction court granted the defendant’s motion without holding an evidentiary hearing, concluding that the defendant did not receive a fair trial. The state then appealed. Continue Reading ›

Prior convictions can have a detrimental impact on a defendant’s punishment scoresheet. As such, if there are grounds for calling a prior conviction into question, they should be asserted, as it could ultimately result in a reduced sentence. In a recent opinion delivered in a sex crime case, a Florida court discussed the procedure for evaluating whether a prior conviction should be considered valid for the purposes of sentencing. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is smart to speak to a St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to assess what defenses you may be able to assert.

The Case Background

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a mentally defective victim, one count of lewd and lascivious behavior, and one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He was convicted and sentenced.  Following his sentencing, he filed a motion to correct a sentencing error in which he contested three prior convictions that contributed to his scoresheet. Among these convictions were two counts of burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, a conviction for lewd or lascivious molestation on a person under 12 years of age, and a grand theft auto conviction. The trial court failed to issue a ruling on the motion within the mandated 60-day period, though, and it was deemed denied pursuant to Florida law. The defendant appealed.

Contesting Prior Convictions in Florida Criminal Matters

On appeal, the court explained that in cases where a defendant contests the veracity of their prior convictions, the State is required to provide competent evidence corroborating these convictions. Unfortunately, in this instance, the trial court did not demand such evidence despite the defendant’s assertions that his prior convictions were improper. As such, the court determined that an evidentiary hearing was warranted to assess the contested prior convictions. The goal of the hearing is to ascertain whether the appellant’s scoresheet requires correction based on the accuracy of the prior convictions. Continue Reading ›

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