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.
Crimes of Violence Under Federal Law
The primary issue on appeal was whether the defendant’s conviction for assault with a deadly weapon categorically qualified as a “crime of violence” under the force clause of the applicable federal statute. The court looked into how the government had charged the VICAR offense against the defendant by examining the indictment and jury instructions. Because the government incorporated state law elements into both, the court needed to determine if Florida’s aggravated assault statute qualified as a “crime of violence” under federal law.
Ultimately, the court found that Florida’s definition of aggravated assault required, at a minimum, the threatened use of physical force. As a result, the defendant’s conviction for assault with a deadly weapon in violation of the VICAR statute categorically qualified as a “crime of violence” and served as a proper predicate for his conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. The court also pointed to Eleventh Circuit precedent, which had previously established that Florida’s aggravated assault statute qualified as a “violent felony” and a “crime of violence” under other procedural contexts. Therefore, the court denied the defendant’s motion, confirming his conviction.
Contact an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
Federal courts take a hard stance against violent crimes, and people convicted of such offenses often face lengthy prison terms. If you are accused of committing a violent offense, you should contact an attorney to assess your possible defenses. The experienced St. Petersburg violent crime defense lawyers of Hanlon Law can evaluate your case and advise you of your options for seeking a favorable result. You can use our online form or call us at 727-897-5413 to schedule a meeting.