Identification of Typo Changes Crime Classification in Florida Defendant’s Conviction

The concept of “scrivener’s error” is certainly applicable to the legal system, although it’s not especially technical. In fact, it’s known by most as a “typo.” Courts systems require human labor to draft legislation, motions, and written judgments, so sometimes mistakes are made. In the criminal law context, the omission of a word or phrase can lead to unintended consequences. Fortunately, there’s a mechanism for addressing scrivener’s error in trial court decisions. In fact, the appellate court for the Second District addressed this issue in a recent Florida burglary case, Morgan v. State.Florida appeals court decisions in criminal cases show that scrivener’s error is not uncommon and can lead to significant changes to a judgment entered against a defendant. In 2004, the Second District Court of Appeals decided a case in which the trial court orally imposed concurrent sentences of 10 years’ imprisonment. The written judgment, however, reflected consecutive sentences for a total of 20 years’ imprisonment.  Moreover, in 2010, the First District Court of Appeals decided a case in which the defendant had been found guilty of a violation of his probation for “not possessing any firearm or weapon.” However, the defendant was only convicted of marijuana possession, and no gun was present. The appeals court ruled that this was a scrivener’s error and that the defendant’s probation violation could not have been attributed to a gun crime. The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure also allow for the modification of a sentence in order to correct a scrivener’s error, but only if the correction would benefit a criminal defendant.

In Morgan v. State, the defendant was convicted at trial and sentenced for two different crimes:  (i) criminal mischief and (ii) burglary of a dwelling. The trial court’s written judgment identified the first charge, criminal mischief, as a first-degree misdemeanor. This designation was erroneous, since it was a second-degree misdemeanor. The court remanded the case to the trial court to correct the written judgment and identify the correct, lesser classification for the criminal mischief conviction. The defendant’s conviction and sentence were affirmed in all other respects.

Florida criminal procedure can be difficult to navigate, and it’s helpful to have the guidance of an experienced attorney to make sure that you are receiving the right defense. If you are arrested and then charged with a crime in St. Petersburg, it makes sense to hire an experienced attorney to help you defend against the allegations. Will Hanlon fits these criteria because he is a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney with over two decades of experience. He strives to obtain an outcome for his clients that is realistic under the circumstances and allows them to move forward with their lives. Contact Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or through our online form to set up a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Grand Theft Auto Conviction Overturned for Florida Bail Bondsman, Clearwater & St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog, 

Defendant in Florida Carjacking Case Fails on Double Jeopardy Appeal, Clearwater & St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog, September 6, 2017

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