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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.

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While no criminal charges should be taken lightly, a conviction for a sex crime can result in a lifelong designation as a sexual predator. While there are laws in Florida that require a mandatory sexual offender designation in certain circumstances, the laws also allow for the Florida Parole Commission to impose sexual predator restrictions based on its discretion.

This was demonstrated in a recent case decided by a Florida appellate court, where the court found that sexual predator conditions imposed on a defendant were proper, even though he was not a sexual predator under the statutory guidelines. If you are a resident of St. Petersburg and are currently charged with a sex crime, it is essential to retain the services of a skilled St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney, to aid you in your fight to retain your liberties and protect your future.

Facts Regarding Defendant’s Sex Crime Charges and Conviction

Reportedly, in 1997 the defendant entered a plea to charges of fondling a minor under the age of sixteen and sexual battery. The stipulated year of his offenses was 1991. The trial court designated the defendant a sexual predator. The designation was subsequently reversed, however, based on the appellate court’s finding that the Florida sexual predator statute applied only to a conviction for sex crimes committed on or after October 1, 1993.

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In all sex crime cases, the state bears the burden of proving that a defendant committed a crime. In pointing out the weaknesses in the state’s case at trial, however, it is essential to consider how any question posed to the state’s witnesses will affect what evidence the state can introduce in rebuttal.

For example, a Florida district court recently ruled that a defendant “opened the door” to questioning regarding his refusal to submit to a DNA test, where the defendant’s attorney questioned the state’s witnesses regarding DNA evidence.  If you live in St. Petersburg and are facing charges of a sex crime, you should retain a seasoned St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to help you analyze any evidence the state can introduce against you and preclude any evidence that should not be admitted.

Charges and Trial Testimony

It is reported that the state charged the defendant with capital sexual battery, lewd or lascivious molestation, attempted capital sexual battery, and false imprisonment, for his alleged sexual relationship with a 10-year-old girl. At the trial, the alleged victim’s mother testified that the victim had two positive pregnancy tests, after which she informed her mother and grandmother of sexual activity between her and the defendant. The victim testified regarding the defendant’s alleged sexual activity with her at the trial as well. A doctor who examined the victim in the emergency room for a possible miscarriage testified that she tested negative for the pregnancy hormone, which she should test positive for if she was pregnant, but the doctor admitted he had never examined a potentially pregnant 10-year-old.

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The criminal legal system treats juvenile defendants differently than adult defendants. Juveniles are generally granted more protection of their rights and are often subject to different sentencing. For example, the United States Supreme Court held in Graham v. Florida that any life sentence imposed on a juvenile offender who was convicted of a non-homicide offense must provide a meaningful chance for the offender to be released before the end of the sentence.

The Supreme Court of Florida recently ruled in Franklin v. State, that the Graham holding did not prohibit a court from imposing a 1,000-year sentence with parole eligibility. If you are a juvenile charged with a crime in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to assess the potential penalties for the crime you are charged with and help you to formulate a defense.

Alleged Facts Regarding Crimes and Sentencing

Allegedly, the defendant committed several violent crimes when he was seventeen. He was charged with several crimes in three separate cases, including kidnapping, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. During the trial in one of his cases, a physician who treated the victim testified the victim suffered the most severe injuries he had ever witnessed.

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If you are charged with a sex crime, it is important to understand what evidence the state will attempt to use against you. Evidence that is obtained via an unreasonable search may be precluded, but proving a search is unreasonable can be difficult, and it is important to understand what constitutes an unreasonable search.

A Florida court recently clarified when a warrantless search is valid, in a case in which they permitted the state to admit evidence found in the defendant’s home absent a warrant. If you face sex crime charges in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled St. Petersburg sex crimes defense attorney who will vigorously fight to preclude evidence obtained without a valid search warrant.

Evidence Against the Defendant

Allegedly, the police began investigating the defendant after a woman contacted the police department and reported the defendant was having sex with the woman’s sister, who was a minor. A child protective team interviewed the minor, who explained that she and the defendant exchanged sexual messages through text, and via two different messaging applications, and eventually began a sexual relationship. The police found messages on the minor’s phone from the defendant in one application, but could not retrieve messages from the other application. The police then obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s phone.

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It is important for any defendant who pleads guilty to or is convicted of a crime to understand how previous convictions for sex crimes may be weighed against him or her. In the Florida courts, prior to sentencing, a Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) is issued, setting forth a defendant’s criminal and personal history. The PSI aides judges in determining an appropriate sentence. It is essential that the court accurately understand information in a PSI, as an incorrect assessment of prior convictions can result in an inappropriate sentence.

This was illustrated in a recent Florida appellate court case, where the court found that the trial court committed an error of law in requiring a defendant to register as a sex offender and imposing a greater than guideline sentence due to a misunderstanding of the information in the PSI and the applicable law. If you were previously convicted of a sex crime and currently face criminal charges in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced St. Petersburg sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible.

Defendant’s Sentencing Hearing

Purportedly, the defendant pled guilty to bank robbery and taking a hostage during a bank robbery. Prior to his sentencing, a PSI was issued that included information regarding the defendant’s prior adjudication as a juvenile for sexual misconduct. The sexual misconduct conviction was based on the defendant allegedly forcing a seven-year-old girl to have oral sex with him when he was thirteen.

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To convict a defendant of a crime, the state is required to prove each element of the crime. Many crimes require the state to prove the defendant’s state of mind at the time the crime was allegedly committed. For example, to convict a defendant of trespass in an unoccupied conveyance, also known as a car, the state must prove that the trespass was willful, meaning the defendant either knew or should have known the car was stolen.  If the state does not produce sufficient evidence the trespass was willful, a conviction for trespass in an unoccupied conveyance will not stand.

In T.A.K. v. Floridaa recent case arising out of a Florida Court of Appeals, the court held that hiding from the police in a stolen car is insufficient evidence to prove the defendant knew the car was stolen. If you are a juvenile facing criminal charges in St. Petersburg, it is essential that your attorney understands the state’s burden in proving its case against you to help you prepare a strong defense.

Factual Scenario

Allegedly, the owner of a car reported her car was missing and denied giving anyone else permission to take her car. The police tracked down the car to a nearby apartment building. When the officers first saw the car, they observed a man reclining in the driver’s seat. They did not notice any movement in the car or see anyone leave the car. When the officers approached the car, they opened the passenger door and saw only a man in the passenger seat. The police officers then opened the driver’s side door and noticed the defendant on the floor in the back of the vehicle, in between the front and back seats. The defendant was subsequently charged with trespass in an unoccupied conveyance. At the close of the state’s case, the defendant moved for the dismissal of the charges against him, on the grounds the state failed to show he knew or should have known the car was stolen. The court denied the defendant’s motion and he was convicted of the charges and placed on juvenile probation. The defendant subsequently appealed.

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Under Florida law, you do not have to actually commit a crime to be convicted of an offense. Rather, a person can be found guilty for a criminal attempt if he or she takes any action toward the commission of the offense but is prevented from actually executing the crime.  While a defendant can be charged with an attempt to commit numerous crimes, attempt charges frequently arise in cases involving sex crimes.

The standard of what is necessary to prove an attempted sex crime was recently clarified by a Florida Court of Appeals in Berger v. State, a case involving a conviction for attempted sexual battery. The Berger ruling enlarged the definition of an overt act in cases involving attempted sex crimes, potentially exposing defendants to a higher risk of conviction. If you are charged with an attempted sex crime in St. Petersburg, it is important to retain an experienced St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney who is adept at navigating the criminal court system and can assist you in preparing your defense.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant engaged in online communication with an undercover police officer who purported to be a man trying to engage a person to teach his minor daughter about sex, as part of an operation to catch child predators. The defendant indicated specific sexual acts he intended to commit on the child and discussed the logistics of traveling to visit the child. The defendant then drove to what he believed to be the child’s residence and knocked on the door, after which he was arrested. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of attempt to commit sexual battery on a person under twelve years old. Defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds he did not commit an overt act towards the commission of the crime. On appeal, the court affirmed his conviction.

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In a case recently heard by the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal, a defendant who was convicted of first degree murder with a firearm appealed his case. His argument rests on his contention that he should have been able to speak directly with his attorney during a ten-minute break between his direct testimony and being cross-examined by the prosecutor. The assistance of counsel is an integral part of the American justice system. In fact, this right is so fundamental that defendants who are not able to afford attorney will have one provided for them. However, defendants can still use their own skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney if they so choose.

Evidence at Trial

During the trial, the evidence showed that the defendant had called 911 from a hotel room where the victim was lying dead with gunshot wounds. Analysis from the crime lab showed that the deadly shot had come from the defendant’s firearm. Initially, the defendant claimed that the woman had shot herself. During a later part of the videotaped interview, he changed his story and said that he the victim after voices from the TV commanded him to kill her. He explained that he lied at first because he was worried about going to prison.

There are many types of sex crimes under Florida law. One of those is video voyeurism. Video voyeurism is when someone secretly records another person in an intimate state, generally for the sexual gratification purposes. Your skilled St. Petersburg sex crimes criminal defense attorney can help you understand what the potential penalties may be for a video voyeurism conviction.

Requirements for a Video Voyeurism Conviction

Like all criminal laws, the prosecution must prove that the defendant’s actions met all the elements of the statute in order to get a conviction. In order to prove that the defendant committed video voyeurism, one thing the prosecution must show is that the offense was committed with the aid of an imaging device. It also requires that the defendant intentionally used the imaging device to secretly view someone taking off their clothes or privately exposing their body in a place where the person being recorded had a reasonable expectation of privacy. It is also video voyeurism when a defendant uses a recording device to took under or through someone’s clothes.

Video Voyeurism and Evidence

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of video voyeurism, like with all other charges, the prosecution must use evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there are specific laws that police and the court must follow in order for evidence to be admissible at trial. If evidence is obtained illegally, it is not permitted to be shown to the jury. A case recently heard by the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, the court looked at video evidence in a video voyeurism case.

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