Pursuant to state and federal law, people cannot be convicted more than once of the same offense, as it violates the prohibition against double jeopardy. While in some instances, it is clear that a conviction constitutes double jeopardy, in others, it is less obvious. For example, a Florida court recently clarified that multiple DUI convictions arising out of a single individual’s harm constitute the same criminal offense and, as such, constitute double jeopardy. If you are charged with a DUI, it is wise to meet with a St. Petersburg DUI defense lawyer to evaluate your possible defenses.
The Procedural History of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant was charged with three DUI offenses arising out of one incident: driving under the influence and causing serious bodily injury to victim one, driving under the influence and causing serious bodily injury to victim two, and driving under the influence and causing damage to the property of victim one.
It is reported that the case proceeded to trial before a jury, and the defendant was found guilty. She was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison and one year of probation. She appealed, arguing that her convictions and sentences for the crimes involving victim one violated her protections against double jeopardy.
Double Jeopardy in DUI Cases
The court granted the defendant’s appeal and remanded the matter so that the trial court could enter an amended judgment and sentence. The court noted that the defendant relied on a Florida ruling that was issued ten months after the verdict was issued in her case. In the ruling in question, the state Supreme Court held that where a single victim and incident are involved, the crimes of driving under the influence and causing serious bodily injury to a person and driving under the influence and causing property damage to a person are varying degrees of the same crime.
As such, convictions for both offenses violate the prohibition against double jeopardy. The court found that the ruling applied in the subject case, and therefore, that the trial court must vacate the defendant’s conviction for the crime of driving under the influence and causing property damage and issue an amended judgment deleting that conviction. As such, the court reversed the trial court ruling, in part, and remanded the matter to the trial court with instructions.
Confer with an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
DUI defendants and all other people charged with crimes are protected from multiple convictions for the same offense, and if a DUI conviction violates a person’s double jeopardy protections, it should be vacated. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to confer with a lawyer regarding what measures you can take to protect your rights. The experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law possess the skills and resources needed to help you seek a favorable outcome, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to set up a meeting.