Articles Posted in Violent Crimes

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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In some Florida criminal cases, the defendant may choose to plead guilty for various reasons. Prior to permitting a defendant to enter a guilty plea, however, the court must determine if the defendant is competent to proceed. When the court fails to validly confirm a defendant’s competence the defendant may be permitted to withdraw his or her plea and it may result in a reversal of a conviction. This was illustrated in a recent Florida Appellate court case in which the defendant entered a guilty plea for an attempted second-degree murder charge without a competency hearing. If you are charged with a violent crime in St. Petersburg it is essential to retain a knowledgeable St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights.

Facts Regarding the Hearing and Plea

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with attempted second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Prior to the entry of the defendant’s plea, his attorney moved for an order to appoint mental health experts to determine if the defendant was competent to proceed to trial. The defendant was examined by two mental health experts; one found the defendant to be competent, while the other found the defendant to be incompetent. The court questioned the defendant, who indicated he had mental health issues in the past. The court did not, however, review the reports of the mental health experts. The defendant subsequently pleaded nolo contendre to the charges and was sentenced. Following his sentencing, the defendant appealed, arguing the trial court erred in failing to conduct a competency hearing or enter a competency order.

Right to a Competency Hearing

The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure require a trial court to enter a written order indicating a defendant is competent to proceed. Additionally, the court must make an independent determination as to whether the defendant is competent, and cannot rely on a stipulation from the parties as to the defendant’s competency. As the trial court in the subject case did not make any independent determination as to the defendant’s competency or enter an order deeming the defendant competent, the appellate court relinquished jurisdiction to the trial court to conduct a competency hearing. The court noted that the defendant was required to be present during the hearing.
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If you are charged with a crime, the State is required to produce competent evidence of each element of the crime to support a conviction. In cases where the State fails to produce any evidence that a crime was committed, it is grounds for an acquittal. In a recent case, a Florida appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in denying the defendant’s motion for judgement on acquittal for a manslaughter charge, finding the State failed to produce evidence of any of the elements of the crime. If you are a St. Petersburg resident charged with manslaughter or any other violent crime, it is wise to speak with a capable St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney regarding the facts of your case and what evidence the State may introduce against you.

Factual Scenario Regarding the Alleged Crimes

Reportedly, the victim was found bleeding behind a bus station, and later died from his injuries. A woman who interacted with the victim on the night of his death responded to a police inquiry for information. She stated that she was at the bus station looking for drugs, when she was introduced to the victim by a drug dealer. The victim purchased drugs for the woman, based upon an agreement that she would have sex with the victim. The victim allegedly grabbed the woman, which she reported to the drug dealer and the defendant.

While a criminal defendant can be convicted of multiple crimes arising out of a single criminal act in some cases, the law provides protection from multiple convictions where the crimes have the same essential elements. For example, a defendant cannot be convicted of felony murder absent evidence of an act that could have caused death and is not an essential element of the underlying felony.

A Florida appellate court recently stated that an attempted felony murder charge was not precluded by an attempted armed robbery charge, because firing a gun is not an essential element of armed robbery. If you live in St. Petersburg and are charged with armed robbery or felony murder, it is important to retain a proficient St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney who will fight diligently on your behalf in the hopes of preserving your rights.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Crimes

Allegedly, the victim was negotiating with a woman regarding the purchase of a couch she found on a website for people reselling property. The victim advised the woman that she and her daughter would come by to pick up the couch. When the victim and her daughter arrived at the woman’s apartment, they were robbed by two men, one of whom was the defendant. The defendant put a gun against the victim’s head and pulled the trigger, but the gun malfunctioned and did not fire. The defendant attempted to fire the gun a second time but was unsuccessful, after which the men fled.

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