Articles Posted in Violent Crimes

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 ›

Hanlon Law, a criminal defense law firm based in St. Petersburg, Florida explains reasons why someone should hire a domestic violence attorney after being accused of domestic violence. Having an experienced St. Petersburg domestic violence lawyer working for you can make a tremendous difference in the outcome for you and your family.

(St. Petersburg, FL January 2022) Hanlon Law recently explained reasons to hire a domestic violence attorney after being accused of domestic violence. The staff at the firm is passionate about what they do, with criminal law being their sole area of practice. They are highly experienced and have been defending and fighting for their clients’ rights since 1994.

The firm pointed out that hiring a St. Petersburg domestic violence attorney can help minimize potential consequences. They explained that this is the most important reason anyone facing domestic charges should hire a domestic violence lawyer. They mentioned that a domestic violence lawyer should possess the knowledge of local state Florida laws pertaining to domestic violence. Clients facing such charges can rely on them to act in their best interest and adequately fight for their rights to reduce charges or earn them an acquittal. Also, they noted that they have extensive skills in investigating the crucial details involved in a domestic case to help figure out what really transpired.

While criminal defendants are not required to set forth a defense, many do, and it generally takes a substantial amount of time to gather the facts and evidence needed to refute the State’s claims. Thus, if a defendant is denied the right to have sufficient time to prepare a defense, it can greatly impact his or her rights. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which a defendant’s information was amended to include a burglary with assault and battery charge right before trial, but his request to continue the trial was denied.  If you are accused of assault and battery or other crime of violence, it is advisable to speak to a trusted St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to determine your rights.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that the defendant and a friend visited the home of another woman in August 2016. The friend, who was homeless, sometimes stayed at the woman’s home with her children. The defendant and the woman left the home but returned later that evening. The defendant then reportedly engaged in illegal acts and was driven out of the home by the friend. He was subsequently charged with numerous offenses.

Reportedly, one week prior to trial, the State filed an amended information, setting forth a burglary with assault or battery charge against the defendant. The State also identified three additional witnesses two days later. The defendant filed a motion to continue the trial to afford him additional time to prepare his defense. The court denied the motion, and the defendant was convicted, after which he appealed.

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There are numerous defenses and arguments a criminal defendant may be able to set forth to avoid a conviction or a severe sentence. As explained in a recent Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous violent crimes, including first-degree murder, most defenses cannot be argued retroactively, however. If you are charged with murder, attempted murder, or any other violent crime, it is critical to retain an assertive St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Appeal

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and convicted of first-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, and burglary. He was sentenced to death for the first-degree murder conviction, and the sentence eventually became final. The defendant then filed a post-conviction motion asking the court for relief on several grounds. The court denied the defendant’s motion and affirmed his sentence. The defendant then appealed.

Post-Conviction Defenses

First, the defendant argued on appeal that he was entitled to relief under Atkins v. Virginia, a United States Supreme Court case and cases that were subsequently decided in the Florida courts, on the grounds that he suffered from an intellectual disability. The court rejected this assertion, stating that the law was clear that relief for an intellectual disability could not be granted retroactively. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court ruling dismissing the petition for relief due to intellectual disability as time-barred.

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The sentence imposed on a criminal defendant convicted of a crime depends on numerous factors, including whether the sentence should be increased or reduced due to any aggravating or mitigating circumstances. Thus, if a jury is not properly advised of the weight of such circumstances or how they should be assessed, it can adversely affect a defendant’s case. In a recent ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Florida, the court clarified the burden of proof that applies to mitigating circumstances, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder. If you live in St. Petersburg and are charged with murder or any other violent crime, it is advisable to consult a skillful St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

Facts Regarding the Case and Sentencing Hearing

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death, after which he filed a petition for relief. He was then granted a new penalty-phase trial and was sentenced to death a second time, after which he appealed, arguing, in part, that the trial court made a fundamental error by neglecting to instruct the jury regarding the burden of proof that applied to mitigating circumstances.

The burden of Proof that Applies to Findings Related to Mitigating Circumstances

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court was required to advise the jury that it must find beyond a reasonable doubt that any aggravating factors were adequate to impose a death sentence and that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors. The court disagreed. Specifically, the court noted that while previous case law suggested that a jury must determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the weight and sufficiency of any aggravating factors required a recommendation that a defendant should be sentenced to death, the prior courts mischaracterized the standard.

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Hazing is a long-standing tradition in many college fraternities and sororities. Hazing is also unlawful, and parties that engage in hazing can be charged criminally for any harm that occurs as a result of the hazing. Further, a person may be charged criminally for hazing even if he or she did not directly participate in the unlawful activity. This was demonstrated in a recent case decided by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District, in which the court reversed a trial court’s dismissal of hazing charges against a fraternity president. If you live in St. Petersburg and are charged with hazing or any other crime alleging you caused bodily harm, it is sensible to meet with a skillful St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to discuss your options for striving to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was the president of a fraternity at a Florida university. As the president, he presided over all fraternity activities and agreed to all pledge activities. Additionally, he was present for a meeting in which the members of the fraternity’s executive board discussed the dangers of the underage pledges becoming intoxicated at an upcoming pledge event, and he encouraged the event to take place.

Allegedly, during the event in question, the victim consumed most of a bottle of bourbon and subsequently died of acute alcohol intoxication. His blood alcohol concentration at the time of his death was over 0.44%. The defendant was not present at the event. The State charged the defendant with one count of felony hazing and one count of misdemeanor hazing, however. During a pre-trial hearing, the court dismissed the felony hazing count, after which the State appealed.

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It is well known that criminal defendants have the right to remain silent and cannot be forced to testify against themselves but the nuances of the protections against self-incrimination are not understood by most people. In a recent case in which the defendant was charged with armed carjacking, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit analyzed whether questioning the defendant about a crime months after he invoked his right to remain silent violated his Miranda rights. If you face car-jacking charges or are charged with any other violent crime it is imperative to engage a skilled St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that in August 2016, the victim drove to a bank with his wife and son, and left his wife and son in the car while he went into the bank. While the victim was in the bank, the defendant allegedly opened the driver’s side door of the car, pointed a gun at the victim’s wife, and ordered her to get out of the car without her son. The wife attempted to unbuckle the child’s seatbelt, and the defendant became angry and screamed at her to leave without the child. The wife was able to extract her son as the defendant put the car into reverse and began backing away.

Allegedly, in September 2016, the defendant was arrested for an unrelated burglary. He was questioned about the burglary and about a “recent carjacking” after which the defendant invoked his right to remain silent and the questioning ceased. It is disputed whether the “recent carjacking” was the August 2016 carjacking or another crime. In December 2016, the defendant was read his Miranda rights, which he waived, and was questioned regarding the August 2016 carjacking. In June 2017 he was charged with carjacking and brandishing a weapon in furtherance of a crime of violence. He pleaded not guilty. Prior to the trial, he filed a motion to suppress his December 2016 statements. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed.

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