College Campus Crimes

When a criminal defendant is convicted of a sex crime, the court is allowed to consider certain mitigating or aggravating factors, such as prior convictions or the lack thereof, in determining an appropriate sentence. When a court considers an impermissible factor in sentencing a defendant, however, it can be grounds to vacate the sentence, as demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate case. If you are faced with charges that you committed a sex crime, it is in your best interest to confer with a dedicated Clearwater sex crime attorney regarding your options for protecting your rights.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Offenses and Trial

It is reported that the defendant, who was 40 years old, picked up the victim, who was 16 years old while she was walking on the side of the road, and took her to his residence. The defendant then offered the victim Dilaudid, which they both injected, after which they had intercourse. The victim died later that evening from an accidental overdose. An autopsy revealed she had numerous drugs in her system, including a small amount of Dilaudid. It was not clear whether the Dilaudid contributed to her death. The defendant was charged with unlawful sexual acts with a person 16 or 17 years old and delivering controlled substances to a person under 18. He was convicted on both counts.

It is alleged that during the sentencing hearing, the judge stated that he was sure the State would have charged the defendant with homicide if the State had sufficient facts to do so. He also stated that the defendant was the main cause of the victim’s death. The defendant was subsequently sentenced to 13-year sentences, to be served consecutively, for each offense. The defendant appealed, arguing the trial court considered impermissible factors in issuing a sentence.

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When a person is required to register as a sexual offender it can impact his or her life long after the sentence for any crime is served. Florida strictly construes the sexual offender registration requirements, and a person may be required to register as a sexual offender even if he or she was not initially notified of the requirement. Recently, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, discussed the parameters for the requirement, in a case in which it overturned the trial court’s order obviating the defendant’s obligation to register as a sexual offender following a kidnapping conviction. If you are a resident of  Clearwater and are charged with a sex crime, it is prudent to consult a diligent Clearwater sex crime attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple crimes arising out of a kidnapping in 1994. He was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison, which was followed by five years of probation. He was sentenced to additional imprisonment due to probation violations and was not released from supervision until 2006.

It is alleged that the Florida legislature enacted a law three years after the defendant’s conviction, that required sex offenders to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). A sexual offender designation is based on criteria set forth under the law, and kidnapping is one of the enumerated offenses that require a person to register as a sexual offender.

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In some cases, it is prudent for a criminal defendant to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. A guilty plea does not always guarantee a lesser sentence; however, as the court is free to sentence a defendant to the maximum punishment permitted. The court is not permitted to exceed the maximum sentence, however, or the sentence may be deemed illegal. This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, in a case in which the defendant pleaded guilty to sexual battery and received a sentence in excess of the maximum sentence. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to meet with a skilled Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and pleaded to guilty three separate charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, arising out of separate acts. Prior to pleading guilty, the defendant entered into a plea agreement with the State, in which his collective sentences were not to exceed 100 years. The court disregarded the agreement, however, and sentenced the defendant to three concurrent 90-year sentences. The defendant filed a motion to correct the sentences, arguing that as sexual batteries were life felonies, but the court did not impose life sentences, the maximum term he could be sentenced for each offense was 40 years.

Reportedly, the court subsequently issued an order stating that the defendant withdrew his motion. The defendant filed a second motion, but it was never ruled on. Finally, the defendant filed a third motion to correct his sentence. The court denied the motion stating that the issue had previously been ruled upon, and the defendant appealed.

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It is well-known that there is a constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy, which is the term used for being tried or convicted more than once for the same criminal offense. This does not mean that a person cannot face multiple criminal charges for criminal conduct in a single criminal episode, however, as recently discussed by a Florida appellate court, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of both attempted lewd battery and unlawfully traveling to meet a minor. If you are a Clearwater resident faced with charges of a sex crime involving a minor or any other sex crime it is essential to retain an assertive Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to fight to protect your liberties.

Facts and Procedural Background

Allegedly, in June 2016, the defendant communicated online with an undercover police officer who was posing as a fourteen-year-old girl. During their conversations, the defendant offered to pay the girl money for sexual activity and arranged to meet the girl at her house. On the way to the agreed upon location, which the defendant believed to be the girl’s home, the defendant reportedly stopped to get cash and buy condoms. When he arrived at the home, he was arrested. He was subsequently charged with unlawful travel and attempted lewd battery.

It is reported the defendant moved to dismiss the attempted lewd battery charge, on double jeopardy grounds. The court ruled that although both crimes arose out of the same conduct, and a single criminal episode, it found that each charge required elements of proof that the other did not. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion and he pleaded no contest to the charges. He then appealed from the final judgment. Continue Reading

In many cases in which a defendant is convicted of a sex crime, he or she will be sentenced to probation rather than imprisonment. If a person violates the terms of his or her probation, however, it can result in a revocation of probation. If the State seeks to revoke a defendant’s probation, it must provide the defendant with an affidavit of the alleged probation violation, and if the State fails to do so, it may violate due process. Recently, a Florida court of appeals analyzed whether an inaccurate affidavit of violation of probation is sufficient to sustain a revocation of probation in a sex crime case. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with violation of probation for a sex crime conviction it is essential to speak with a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney regarding what the State must prove to revoke your probation.

Factual and Procedural Background

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with violating the terms of his probation for a sex crime conviction, Specifically, it was alleged that he possessed pornography in violation of the terms of his probation. Following a hearing, the court found that the defendant violated his probation and revoked his probation. He was subsequently sentenced to ninety-nine months imprisonment. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court committed an error by ruling he violated the term of his probation prohibiting him from possessing pornography, because the State failed to show that the pornographic materials had any bearing on the deviant behavior that originally led to his sex crime conviction.

Sufficiency of Affidavit of Violation of Probation

Under Florida law, sex offenders who are sentenced to probation are required to have a prohibition on possessing pornographic materials as a term of their probation. Before October 2014, the law required that the pornographic materials subject to prohibition bear a relationship to the defendant’s pattern of deviant behavior. After October 2014, however, the statute was revised to require the prohibition of any pornographic materials as a term of a sex offender’s probation. As such, anyone placed on probation after October 2014 following a conviction for a sex crime is prohibited from owning any pornographic materials. Notably, however, the statutory modification did not alleviate the earlier provision prohibiting pornographic materials related to the offender’s deviant behavior.

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The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure offer numerous protections to defendants charged with sex crimes, including the right to appeal unjust convictions. While the law provides avenues for appeal, it also imposes strict deadlines that criminal defendants must comply with, to avoid waiving the right to appeal. A Florida district court of appeals recently discussed exceptions to the statutory deadlines for filing an appeal, in a case in which the defendant’s appeal of his conviction for sexual battery was denied as untimely.  If you are a Clearwater resident charged with a sex crime it is vital to retain a skillful Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to present a strong defense on your behalf to help you protect your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with sexual battery of an individual less than twelve years of age and lewd and lascivious molestation. The charges arose out of the defendant’s alleged digital penetration of his granddaughter while she slept in a bed with him. During the trial, the granddaughter also testified that the defendant molested her when she was approximately 7 years old when she visited him in Colorado. Additionally, another granddaughter and the defendant’s stepdaughter testified that the defendant had molested them on more than one occasion as well. The defendant was convicted on both counts and sentenced to life in prison. The second conviction was deemed to violate double jeopardy and was vacated.

Allegedly, within the two-year deadline, the defendant filed a Rule 3.850 motion for post-conviction relief arguing that his counsel was ineffective on multiple grounds, including for permitting the State to introduce collateral crime evidence. The court denied the motion with prejudice, finding that the defendant failed to prove the case was prejudiced or his counsel was ineffective. Then, one year later, the defendant filed a second motion for post-conviction relief.  The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appealed.

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Individuals charged with a crime in Clearwater have a right to due process under the state and federal constitutions. Due process includes the right to be adequately informed of the basis of any crimes or violations with which a defendant is charged. The right to due process does not end when a defendant is convicted but extends to sentencing hearings and violation of parole proceedings. Recently, a Florida appellate court addressed the due process requirements of probation violation proceedings, in a case in which an order finding a violation was reversed. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a violation of the terms of your probation, it is critical to retain a skilled Clearwater probation violation defense attorney to fight to preclude any evidence the state should not be permitted to introduce at your trial.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with violating three of the terms of his probation. The first violation was for allegedly failing to comply with the requirement that the defendant must report to his probation officer, the second violation was for moving without notifying his probation officer and obtaining his consent, and the third violation was for committing a new criminal offense. A hearing was held after which his probation was revoked, and a sentence was imposed. The defendant appealed, arguing that his right to due process was violated during the hearing.

Due Process in Probation Violation Hearings

In Florida, the right to due process in criminal proceedings extends to cases in which violation of probation cases. To comply with the due process requirements, the probation order must place the probationer on adequate notice of the conduct that is prohibited and required during the probationary period. Additionally, if a violation of probation has allegedly been committed, both the affidavit of the violation and the court’s finding that a violation has been committed must mirror the language of the probation terms. Thus, terms that are not set forth in the conditions of probation cannot form the basis of an alleged violation of probation.
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A person charged with a crime in Florida has certain rights that the State is not permitted to violate in order to obtain a conviction. For example, if a person is charged with more than one crime the state is limited as to whether evidence of the first crime can be introduced at trial for the second crime or whether the trials for each crime can be consolidated. A Florida appellate court recently discussed the standards for permitting a court to consolidate criminal trials and for introducing collateral crime evidence, in a case in which the defendant was charged with two separate crimes of solicitation to commit murder. If you are a Clearwater resident currently charged with more than one count of solicitation to commit homicide or any other homicide crime it is crucial to your defense to retain a seasoned Clearwater homicide defense attorney to fight to preclude any evidence the state should not be permitted to introduce at your trial.

The Defendant’s Alleged Crimes

Allegedly, the defendant was in jail awaiting trial for the crime of lewd and lascivious molestation of his former girlfriend’s daughter. He reportedly approached two other inmates on separate occasions to ask them to arrange the murders of three witnesses who were to testify on behalf of the State at the trial. The defendant was subsequently charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder. Each solicitation crime was charged by a separate information but the cases were consolidated for trial. During the trial for the solicitation crimes, the inmates the defendant approached both testified that the defendant asked them to arrange the murders of witnesses in his upcoming molestation trial. Additionally, the defendant’s former girlfriend and the detective who investigated the molestation crime testified regarding the alleged molestation. The defendant was convicted on both solicitation charges, after which he appealed, arguing the court erred in consolidating the two cases and in admitting evidence of collateral crimes.

Consolidation of Offenses

In order to consolidate separate criminal cases for trial, the crimes must be significantly linked in some way. In other words, the State must be able to prove that some meaningful relationship exists between the crimes. In the subject case, the defendant argued that because there was no interrupted sequence between his alleged crimes, the crimes did not have a meaningful relationship. The court rejected this argument, stating that the meaningful relationship between the crimes was that they were part of a single effort to thwart the people who would testify against the defendant. Thus, the court found that the trial court did not err in permitting the consolidation.

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A person accused of committing a sex crime has the right to a fair trial which includes the right to be represented by an attorney. A defendant who is charged with a sex crime is afforded the right to an attorney even if he or she does not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney, in which case one will be appointed. Even though a defendant may not choose an appointed attorney, the attorney still has an obligation to provide a thorough defense, and attorneys that have conflicts of interest must recuse themselves from representing the defendants they have been appointed to represent. A Florida appellate court recently discussed what constitutes a conflict of interest in a sex crime case.   If you live in Clearwater and are accused of committing a sex crime you should meet with a trusted Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and your available defenses.

The Charges Against the Defendant

Allegedly, the defendant approached his victim while she was walking in her neighborhood, held a knife to her neck, and raped her. The victim went to the hospital where medical professionals examined her and gathered evidence that matched the defendant. The defendant was charged with sexual battery with a deadly weapon. He was found guilty following a jury trial, after which he appealed.

What Constitutes an Actual Conflict of Interest

In his appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to representation of counsel without conflict. Specifically, he argued that because it was discovered during the trial that his attorney was employed by the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (OCCCRC), and another attorney employed by OCCCRC was representing the victim in another matter. Upon learning this information, the judge placed the defendant under oath and asked whether he wished to waive any possible conflict, to which the defendant replied yes. The judge commented that no actual conflict had arisen but found that the defendant had knowingly and freely waived any potential conflict.
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When a person is charged with a crime in Florida, the State sets forth the charges in an information. An information must set forth the facts regarding the alleged crime and the statute of the offense charged. An information is not immune from human error, and in some cases, the State will set forth the wrong statute, or indicate different statutes on which the charge is based in the heading and the body of the information. A Florida appellate court recently analyzed whether an inaccurate information was grounds for reversal of a conviction for driving with a revoked license, ultimately ruling that it was not. If you are a resident of Clearwater and face charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, it is prudent to retain a capable Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you formulate a defense.

The Charges as Set Forth in the Information

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped by a police officer for failing to wear his seat belt. When the officer asked the defendant for his driver’s license, the defendant stated that his license was suspended. The officer investigated the defendant’s identity and learned that the defendant’s license was in fact revoked due to three charges of driving while his license was suspended and charges of failing to appear. Additionally, the defendant was considered a habitual traffic offender.

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