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.

If you are charged with a crime, the State is required to produce sufficient evidence of each element of the crime to convict you. For example, to prove a defendant committed grand theft, the State must show that a defendant stole the property of another person and that the value of the property is at least $300.

A Florida appellate court recently reversed a conviction due to insufficient evidence of the value of stolen property in a grand theft case. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with grand theft or another criminal offense you should meet with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your arrest and your available defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Alleged Theft

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of burglary and grand theft. The State’s primary witness at the defendant’s trial was a co-defendant, who testified on behalf of the State following an entry of an open plea. The witness stated that he drove the defendant and another person to an apartment building and acted as a lookout as the defendant and the other man entered an apartment.

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Under Florida law, juvenile defendants are subject to a different set of rules and standards than adult defendants in the criminal court system. For example, if a juvenile defendant is found to be in violation of a court order, the law allows the defendant to be sentenced to detainment in a secure facility.

A Florida appellate court recently analyzed whether a juvenile’s sentence of 100 days of detainment following violations of a probation order was unlawful. If you are a juvenile resident of Clearwater and are charged with a criminal offense or probation violation, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights under the law.

Terms of the Defendant’s Probation

Reportedly, the defendant was placed on probation for petit theft and possession of cannabis. The terms of the defendant’s probation required her to live at her mother’s home. While she was on probation, the defendant was charged with possession of a controlled substance. During a conference regarding her probation violation, the court issued a “Do Not Run Order.” The order required the defendant to live at her mother’s home and put the defendant on notice that if a rule to show cause was issued a hearing could be held on whether she was guilty of contempt. Further, the order stated that the defendant was on notice that she faced five days for the first day she was on the run, but no more than fifteen days for each subsequent day. Each day on the run was considered a separate contempt offense.

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Florida law provides criminal defendants with certain rights and protections, in an effort to avoid unjust convictions. One example of these protections is that a defendant must be mentally competent to proceed with a trial. If a defendant is incompetent, or his or her competence is not adequately evaluated prior to a criminal hearing, it may result in a dismissal of any conviction.

In a recent case decided by a Florida appellate court, the court discussed the burden of recognizing incompetence in criminal cases. If you are charged with a criminal offense and you live in Clearwater, you should meet with a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and possible defenses to the charges you face.

Alleged Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Competence

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. He filed a motion to vacate his conviction alleging, in part, that his attorney was ineffective for failing to obtain a competency evaluation. Specifically, he alleged that his attorney obtained an order authorizing a mental health evaluation, but did not make sure an evaluation was completed. The defendant further alleged that he could not adequately communicate with his attorney or exercise his right to a fair trial due to his incompetence. The post-conviction court denied the defendant’s claim, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court granted his motion.

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In many instances when a defendant is charged with a crime, he or she will remain in jail until the ultimate disposition of the case. Often, when a defendant who is found guilty or pleads no contest to criminal charges is sentenced to imprisonment, a court will grant the defendant credit from time served for the time spent in jail prior to the resolution of the case.

As a Florida appellate court recently explained, once credit for time served has been awarded, Florida courts are not permitted to retract the award, even if it was given in error.  If you are charged with a criminal offense and you live in Clearwater, you should meet with a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and possible defenses to the charges you face.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with kidnapping and robbery in case 2010-CF-109 to which he pleaded no contest. He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment followed by 3 years of probation. He received a credit of 460 days for time served. The plea agreement, however, credited the time served to case number 2010-CF-010, another case under which the defendant was charged. As such, the defendant received credit for time served under both cases.

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In Florida, felony convictions are reviewed under the state sentencing guidelines. The guidelines were created in an effort to impose fair and uniform sentences for felony crimes and allow the court to consider factors related to the offense to determine an appropriate sentence. When a court imposes a sentence within the statutory range set forth under the guidelines, it generally will not be disturbed.

As noted in a recent Florida appellate court case, however, an exception arises when a court considers impermissible factors during sentencing. If you are a resident of Clearwater and are presently facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to consult a knowledgeable Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss the charges you face.

The Defendant’s Charges and Convictions

It is reported that the defendant shot two victims outside of a bar. He was subsequently charged with first-degree murder with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, and aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, he was convicted of aggravated assault and the lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and attempted manslaughter. He was sentenced to forty years imprisonment for second-degree murder, fifteen for attempted manslaughter and three for aggravated assault. During the sentencing hearing, the trial court stated that the jury found that the defendant reflected on his actions when he committed the crimes and that he spent time thinking about his intended crimes and nonetheless proceeded to commit them. The defendant appealed his sentence on the grounds that the court erred in considering any “reflection” he undertook in committing the crimes since he was not convicted of first-degree murder or attempted first-degree murder.

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