Articles Posted in Violent Crimes

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 ›

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.

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.

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While a person charged with a crime does not have to offer evidence in their defense at trial, it would be prudent to introduce any information that may exonerate them. Generally, all evidence must be exchanged prior to trial, and if a party fails to introduce evidence, they waive the right to do so. There are exceptions, however, such as when exculpatory evidence is not discovered until a later date. Recently, a Florida court explained when a conviction should be set aside due to newly discovered evidence in a murder case in which it ultimately denied the defendant’s request for relief. If you are accused of murder, it is in your best interest to talk to a  St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to evaluate your possible defenses. 

Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping and sentenced to 100 years in prison and death. He filed a postconviction motion, resulting in the vacation of his death sentence and the ordering of a new penalty phase. The defendant then filed a second motion, claiming newly discovered evidence based on an alleged jailhouse confession. An evidentiary hearing was conducted, during which the defendant presented testimony from witnesses, including the individual to whom the alleged confession was made.

Allegedly, the court denied the defendant’s motion for relief, concluding that the evidence presented was insufficient to support the claim of a jailhouse confession and would likely be inadmissible under the Florida Rules of Evidence. Consequently, the defendant appealed the court’s decision. Continue Reading ›

Pursuant to federal law, people convicted of certain offenses may be deemed career offenders and may face enhanced penalties if they are subsequently convicted of other offenses. One example of an offense that permits a career offender enhancement is a crime of violence. It is not always clear what falls under the umbrella of violent crime, however. In a recent case, a Florida court evaluated whether a Montana conviction for assaulting a police officer constituted a violent crime, ultimately ruling that it did. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is prudent to confer with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney who can help you formulate a compelling defense.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with an assault offense and unlawful possession of a weapon arising out of an incident that occurred when he was in a federal correctional institution. He pled guilty to the assault charge in exchange for the dismissal of the second offense. The defendant’s presentence investigation report included, in pertinent part, his Montana conviction for assaulting a police officer.

Reportedly, the sentencing court ultimately deemed the defendant a career offender under federal law, in part due to his Montana conviction being deemed a crime of violence. The defendant objected to the classification of the Montana assault as a crime of violence. The court overruled his objection and sentenced him to 96 months in prison. The defendant then appealed. Continue Reading ›

Under Florida law, people can avoid criminal prosecution for assault if they can establish that they used force in self-defense. The defense is not available to people who act as the initial aggressor, however. Further, all affirmative defenses must be asserted in a timely manner, otherwise, they may be rejected. In a recent Florida opinion issued in an aggravated battery case, the court discussed self-defense immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, ultimately determining that it did not apply. If you are accused of battery or another violent offense, it is prudent to talk to a St. Petersburg violent offense defense attorney about what defenses you may be able to assert.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the State charged the defendant with aggravated battery with a firearm causing substantial bodily harm. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information on the grounds that he was immune from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. The court conducted an evidentiary hearing but denied the defendant’s motion.

Reportedly, approximately four months later and less than two weeks before his trial, the defendant filed an emergency petition for a writ of prohibition. The court stayed proceedings to allow the parties to address the defendant’s delay in filing the petition. The defendant argued that his delay was not inordinate but was reasonable. Continue Reading ›

It is not uncommon for people to be charged with multiple crimes. While the judge or jury determining guilt in a criminal matter has the right to find a defendant committed one crime but not the other, the verdicts must be consistent. In other words, if one verdict negates the elements needed to convict the defendant of another charge, the verdicts will be deemed inconsistent and most likely will be reversed, as shown in a recent Florida case in which the defendant was charged with felony murder and other crimes. If you are accused of committing a violent offense, it is in your best interest to talk to a St. Petersburg violent crime defense lawyer about your options for seeking a just result.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the state charged the defendant with robbery and first-degree felony murder. The state asserted that the defendant killed the victim while perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate a robbery and that he attempted to rob the victim with a firearm. Additionally, in both counts, the state alleged that the defendant had and discharged a gun, causing the victim’s death.

It is reported that following a trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of the first-degree felony murder charge and specifically found that he had and discharged a firearm during the commission of the crime, causing great bodily harm or death. The jury found the defendant not guilty of attempted robbery, however. As such, the defendant moved for arrest of judgment based on an inconsistent verdict. The trial court denied his motion, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

Most Florida citizens have the right to own firearms, but for convicted felons, carrying a gun can lead to felony charges. Further, if their prior offenses were violent crimes, they may face lengthy prison sentences if they are convicted. In a recent Florida case, the court analyzed whether resisting an officer, and other offenses constituted violent predicate crimes, ultimately concluding that they did. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is important to talk to a St. Petersburg gun crime defense attorney to discuss your potential defenses.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with possession of ammunition and a firearm as a felon. He entered a guilty plea. He was then sentenced to fifteen years in prison under the Armed Career Criminal Act (the Act). He appealed, arguing that his prior convictions for battery, robbery, and resisting an officer were not considered violent felonies under the Act. He further asserted that the enhanced mandatory minimum sentence imposed under the Act violated his protections against double jeopardy.

Violent Offenses Under Florida Law

The court rejected the defendant’s reasoning and affirmed his sentence. The court explained that it reviewed whether a crime categorically qualifies as a violent felony under the Act de novo, while double jeopardy claims were reviewed for clear error. Under the Act, a minimum of a fifteen-year term of imprisonment must be imposed for anyone convicted of certain federal gun crimes if they have three prior violent felony convictions. Violent felonies include crimes that have the use or attempted or threatened use of physical force as an element. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, many battery crimes include an element of intent. As such, the state must prove that a person possessed a certain state of mind in order to establish their guilt for a specific crime. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence the state must produce to demonstrate intent with regard to battery by strangulation in a case in which the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. If you are charged with battery or any other violent crime, it is advisable to meet with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and the victim, the defendant’s girlfriend at the time, were involved in an argument. The disagreement became physical, and the defendant picked up the victim by her neck, impairing her ability to breathe. The following day the victim called the police and reported the incident.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with battery by strangulation. He moved for acquittal, but the jury convicted him as charged. He appealed, arguing that the state failed to demonstrate he possessed an intent to impede the victim’s breathing as required to establish guilt. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed his conviction. Continue Reading ›

The law is constantly changing, and modifications to the definitions of crimes and sentencing requirements can impact the manner in which criminal cases are resolved. Even if an intervening change of law occurs, though, it may not be considered grounds for modifying a sentence once it has been imposed. This was demonstrated recently in an opinion issued by a Florida court in which it denied a defendant’s request for compassionate release that was triggered by a change in the definition of a crime of violence. If you are accused of a violent crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Sentence and Appeal

It is alleged that in 2015 the defendant entered a guilty plea to Hobbs Act robbery via a written plea agreement that included a waiver of the right to appeal his sentence. During his sentencing hearing, he was deemed a career offender on the grounds that he had two prior violent crime convictions and Hobbs Act robbery qualified as a crime of violence. He did not object to the designation and was sentenced to 151 months in prison.

Reportedly, although the defendant did not appeal his sentence, his two codefendants did on the grounds that Hobbs Act robbery was not a crime of violence. Their challenges were successful. In 2020, the defendant filed a motion seeking a sentence reduction based on compelling and extraordinary reasons, namely that Hobbs Act robberies were no longer deemed crimes of violence. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed. Continue Reading ›

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