While criminal defendants will often assert their innocence, in some instances, it makes sense for them to enter a guilty plea. For example, a defendant will often plead guilty with the expectation that they will receive a reduced sentence for their convictions. Guilty pleas do not automatically result in lesser sentences, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which a woman argued that her sentence for identify theft and other crimes was unreasonable. If you are accused of a theft offense, it is wise to confer with a Clearwater theft crime lawyer attorney about your options.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that in 2019, a federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment against the defendant, charging her with multiple counts, including conspiracy to commit access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and possession of unauthorized access devices. The defendant pleaded guilty to two counts, and the government dropped the remaining charges. The presentence investigation report (PSI) detailed the defendant’s criminal activities dating back to December 2014, when she was observed engaging in suspicious behavior at a department store with another woman.

Reportedly, the defendant and the other woman made purchases using a department store credit card under the name of an individual identified as L.B., who denied any association with the defendant. Upon the defendant’s arrest, police found multiple pieces of mail and credit cards not belonging to her in her car, along with personal identifying information (of various individuals. The defendant had previously faced charges related to similar offenses at the state level, though the case was eventually dismissed. Following her federal indictment, the PSI calculated the defendant’s offense level and criminal history, which included prior convictions for theft and fraud. The defendant was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment, after which she appealed, asserting that her sentence was procedurally and substantively unreasonable.

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Under Florida law, the State can charge a defendant with felony murder if a person dies during the defendant’s commission of a felony offense. A conviction for a felony is an essential element of felony murder, and if the State cannot establish the defendant committed a felony crime, the defendant should not be found guilty of felony murder. As demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, though, they may be found guilty of other murder offenses. If you are charged with murder or any other violent crime, it is smart to speak to a Clearwater violent crime defense attorney about your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the State indicted the defendant for first-degree murder with a firearm and robbery with a firearm or deadly weapon. The jury found the defendant guilty on the first-degree murder charge, with special findings related to firearm possession and discharge resulting in the victim’s death. On the robbery charge, the jury convicted the defendant of the lesser offense of petit theft.

Allegedly, the court sentenced him to life in prison for the murder charge and time served for the robbery charge. The defendant appealed his first-degree murder conviction, arguing that it was based on a legally inadequate legal theory.

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Although white-collar crimes do not typically cause bodily harm, the courts nonetheless punish people convicted of such offenses harshly. While the courts generally must comply with sentencing guidelines when issuing sentences, the guidelines allow for significant latitude, and as long as a sentence is not deemed unreasonable, it will likely be upheld, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you are accused of committing a white-collar crime, it is wise to consult a Clearwater white-collar crime defense attorney to discuss your case.

Factual Background and Procedural History

It is alleged that in 2015, the defendant faced federal charges, including four counts of making false statements on a loan application and one count of aggravated identity theft. In 2016, he was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release with a restitution order. The defendant’s supervised release conditions included truthfully answering the probation officer’s inquiries and providing requested financial information. After violating these conditions, a petition for a warrant was filed in November 2021.

It is reported that the defendant subsequently defendant faced a new charge for making false statements on a monthly financial report. Despite an initial rejected guilty plea, a second plea colloquy ensued, resulting in an accepted guilty plea. The presentence investigation report calculated the defendant’s guideline range as zero to six months, and at sentencing, he argued for leniency, presenting testimony regarding his employment. Nevertheless, the court sentenced the defendant to 28 months, comprising 18 months for the new charge and 10 months for the supervised release violation, citing concerns about his history of dishonesty. The defendant appealed.

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In Florida, people convicted of sex crimes may be sentenced to lengthy terms in prison. Additionally, if they have a history of prior convictions, their sentence may be increased. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion, this is true regardless of whether the convictions were imposed by another state. If you are faced with sex crime charges, it is smart to talk to a Clearwater sex crime defense attorney promptly.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was found guilty by a jury of sexual battery, domestic battery, and harassing a witness. Following sentencing, the defendant filed a motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(b)(2), alleging errors in scoring several Ohio convictions on the sentencing scoresheet. The trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part, choosing not to resentence the appellant. The defendant then appealed.

Scoring Out-of-State Convictions During Sentencing

On appeal, the defendant raised concerns about the scoring of the Ohio convictions and the application of a sentencing multiplier for a sex crime committed in front of a child. The court affirmed the trial court’s ruling on the second issue without discussion. Regarding the first issue, the court considered the scoring of the Ohio aggravated robbery conviction. The defendant argued that only the elements of the out-of-state crime should be considered when determining its analogy to a Florida statute for scoring purposes. Continue Reading ›

Under Florida law, theft crimes are graded, in part, by the value of the object stolen. As such, in many instances, the State is required to prove the market cost of the diverted goods in order to demonstrate the defendant’s guilt. If the State is unable to meet this burden, the defendant should be acquitted. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence the State must produce to demonstrate the fair market value of a stolen object in a case in which it ultimately affirmed the defendant’s felony theft conviction. If you are accused of taking someone else’s property in violation of the law, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater theft crime defense attorney about your rights.

Case Background

It is reported that the defendant faced a second-degree felony charge of grand theft for the alleged theft of jewelry in July 2020 from his ex-girlfriend. The stolen items included a watch and a platinum wedding band with diamonds. During the trial,  the ex-girlfriend testified that she purchased the watch in 2004 for approximately $20,000 and the wedding band in 2002 for approximately $2,900.

Allegedly, she further testified that the defendant sold the Rolex watch at a pawnshop, and she identified it by matching the serial number. The State asked the ex-girlfriend about the pawnshop’s asking price for the watch. Defense counsel objected to the question, but the court overruled their objection. During redirect, the ex-girlfriend mentioned that the defendant received $10,000 from the pawnshop for the watch. The defendant moved for acquittal, but the trial court reserved ruling. After the trial, he renewed his motion for acquittal, which the court denied. He was convicted of third-degree felony theft, and he appealed.

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Under Federal law, banks are required to report cash deposits that exceed a certain amount on the basis that they may indicate that people are attempting to avoid paying income tax. Some people attempt to evade this requirement by structuring their deposits in a manner that will not trigger the reporting requirement. Structuring is unlawful, however, and it can lead to significant penalties. In a recent Florida case, the court described what evidence is needed to establish guilt for structuring, ultimately affirming the defendant’s conviction. If you are charged with a financial crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a Clearwater white color criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant, a former pain management clinic physician, faced numerous charges for allegedly distributing controlled substances from his clinic. While acquitted of these charges, he then faced charges two charges for illegally structuring payments from these operations. Specifically, the government alleged that he engaged in structuring transactions to evade federal bank reporting requirements. Namely, he made 22 cash deposits under $10,000 over seven days and followed a similar pattern with 38 cash deposits, some on consecutive days, over approximately seven and a half months. This deposit pattern raised suspicions of structuring. The jury found the defendant guilty on both counts, leading to concurrent 24-month sentences. The defendant appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to sustain his convictions.

Evidence Establishing Illegal Structuring

On appeal, the court rejected the defendant’s reasoning and affirmed his convictions. The court explained that when reviewing such convictions, they view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and consider all reasonable inferences and credibility choices in favor of the verdict.

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In the context of criminal proceedings, the defendant’s guilt typically hinges on the interpretation of circumstantial rather than direct evidence. When viewed in its entirety, if the evidence in question does not demonstrate the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant should be able to avoid a conviction. In a recent Florida ruling issued in a weapons crime case, the court discussed what constitutes adequate evidence to sustain a conviction, ultimately upholding the jury’s guilty verdict. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Clearwater gun crime defense attorney about your rights.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was indicted for knowingly possessing ammunition as a felon, a federal offense. During the trial, an FBI special agent described a search of the defendant’s family residence. During the search, ammunition was discovered in various locations, including a black backpack in the defendant’s closet. The jury found him guilty, and he appealed, arguing that the evidence presented during the trial failed to establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for possessing ammunition as a felon.

Evaluating the Sufficiency of Evidence in Weapons Crime Cases

On appeal, the court ruled that the evidence put forth during the trial was sufficient to support the defendant’s conviction for possessing ammunition as a felon. In doing so, the court explained that the test for determining whether evidence is adequate is the same regardless of whether the evidence is circumstantial or direct. While no greater weight is given to either type of evidence when the state relies on circumstantial evidence, reasonable inferences, not mere speculation, are necessary to support a conviction.

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In Florida, the act of touching a person without their consent is unlawful, and people that engage in such behavior may be found guilty of battery. Notably, contact is an essential element of many battery crimes, and if the prosecution cannot establish that a person charged with battery made actual contact with their alleged victim, they should not be able to obtain a conviction. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the court reversed the defendant’s battery conviction. If you are accused of battery, it is smart to speak to a Clearwater battery defense attorney about your potential defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Alleged Assault

It is alleged that police officers attempted to pull over the defendant when he was driving. They offered several reasons for their attempt, including that the defendant had an unregistered tag, failed to wear a seatbelt, and his car smelled of cannabis. The officers, dressed in law enforcement clothing, were in an unmarked black SUV with red and blue track lights activated to stop the defendant.

Reportedly, when the defendant did not immediately comply with the officers’ orders to pull over, they positioned their SUV slightly in front of his vehicle and activated the siren, trying to stop him. At this point, the defendant revved his engine and drove his car toward the officers’ SUV. However, both officers managed to jump back into the SUV, and the defendant’s car struck the front passenger door of the SUV without hitting any of the officers. The State subsequently charged the defendant with several offenses, including aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. He moved for an acquittal on the aggravated battery count at the close of evidence. The court denied his motion, and he was convicted, after which he appealed.

 

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The Double Jeopardy Clauses in the state and federal Constitutions aim to protect individuals from being unfairly subjected to repeated prosecutions and punishments for the same offense. As such, if a defendant is convicted on multiple theft charges arising out of the same incident, they may be able to successfully argue that one or more of their convictions may be vacated. In a recent Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple theft crimes, the court explained when the Double Jeopardy clauses are triggered and ultimately vacated two of the defendant’s convictions.  If you are charged with a theft offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a Clearwater theft crime defense lawyer about what defenses you may be able to set forth.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with burglary, grand theft from a retail merchant, and two counts of petit theft. Following a trial, a jury found him guilty as charged. He appealed, arguing that his two convictions for petit theft arising out of the same incident violated the rule against double jeopardy. The court agreed, and the State acknowledged the error. As such, the court vacated his theft convictions; it otherwise affirmed his remaining convictions without further comment.

Protections Provided by the Double Jeopardy Clause

The Double Jeopardy Clause in both the United States and Florida Constitutions prohibits subjecting an individual to multiple prosecutions, convictions, and punishments for the same criminal offense. In cases involving theft convictions, where the offenses are merely variations of the core offense of theft, having dual convictions based on the same core offense is not permissible. This is because each offense is considered an aggravated form of the underlying offense of theft, and they differ only in terms of degree.

 

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In Florida, people convicted of offenses involving bodily harm to another individual may face a variety of penalties. For example, in addition to being sentenced to jail time and probation, a person may be ordered to pay restitution fees. The courts can only order a defendant to pay restitution for harm arising out of their conduct, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion delivered in a battery case. If you are charged with battery, it is smart to confer with a Clearwater battery lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the defendant, who was a minor, was arrested for battery. According to the allegations, the victim was involved in a physical fight with the co-defendant at a party. Subsequently, the defendant joined the argument and physically attacked the victim, hitting and kicking her in the back, face, and head. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was adjudicated delinquent.

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