All criminal offenders are not the same in the eyes of the law when it comes to sentencing. If a person who is convicted of a crime has certain prior convictions, he or she may be deemed a career offender and be subject to enhanced penalties. Only enumerated crimes, crimes of violence and certain drug crimes count toward career offender status, however. Whether a crime is a crime of violence is frequently debated in the Florida courts.
Recently, the District Court for the Eleventh Circuit rejected a defendant’s argument that kidnapping was not a violent crime, affirming his enhanced sentence. If you live in St. Petersburg and face criminal charges, it is important to know how any prior convictions may affect your case and possible sentence. You should consult a knowledgeable St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the facts of your case and any defenses to the charges you face.
Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest and Prior Convictions
It is reported that the defendant was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamines and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, to which he pled guilty. He was previously convicted of kidnapping, armed assault or battery with a weapon, and possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute. As such, the trial court designated him a career offender and sentenced him to 160 months in prison. He appealed his sentence, arguing that the trial court erred in designating him a career offender because a Florida kidnapping conviction does not qualify as a crime of violence. On appeal, the court affirmed.
Crimes of Violence Under Florida Law
The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that kidnapping did not constitute a crime of violence. A crime is considered a crime of violence if it is an enumerated offense under U.S.S.G.§ 4B1.1(a), or has an element of the use, or attempted or threatened use, of physical force. The court noted that a Florida court had previously determined that kidnapping categorically qualified as a crime of violence in In re Burgest. The defendant argued that the Burgest holding was not binding on the court, because it was decided in the context of an application to file a second motion to vacate a sentence. The court rejected this reasoning, finding that district court specifically stated that cases decided under such facts were binding on all panels of the court unless overruled. As such, the court affirmed his sentence.
Consult a Trusted St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you live in St. Petersburg and have recently been charged with a crime, it is essential to understand how prior convictions may affect your case. You should consult a trusted criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the facts of your case. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney with the skills and experience needed to help you develop strong arguments that will provide you with a strong chance of a favorable outcome under the facts of your case. Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.
More Blog Posts:
Manslaughter Conviction Upheld in Florida After Court Refuses to Extend “Stand Your Ground” Law Retroactively, August 22, 2018, St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Lawyer Blog