Court Discusses Violent Offenses Under Florida Law

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.

With regard to the defendant’s robbery conviction, the court noted that the Florida Supreme Court previously held that robbery under Florida law qualified as a violent felony under the Act, and as the precedent had direct application in the case, the court was bound to follow it. Similarly, the court had previously held that the crime of resisting an officer with violence was a violent felony under the Act.

The court noted that the defendant argued that the previous case was wrongfully decided but stated that even if it agreed with him, it was bound to follow the prior decision as binding precedent. As the defendant had one prior robbery conviction and two prior convictions for resisting an officer with violence, the court found that it was not necessary to determine whether his prior conviction for battery qualified as a violent offense. Thus, the court upheld his sentence.

Consult a Trusted Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

A conviction for a gun crime can result in significant penalties, especially if the defendant has prior violent offense convictions. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. The trusted St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can analyze the facts of your case and advise you of your options for seeking a good outcome. You can reach us at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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