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.

It is not uncommon for people to be charged with multiple crimes stemming from a singular incident. While the State can lawfully bring such charges, the prosecution must nonetheless prove the discrete elements of each offense in order to obtain guilty verdicts. If the prosecution fails to meet this burden, it should not be able to obtain a valid conviction. Recently, a Florida court discussed what the State must show to establish guilt for kidnapping charges arising out of an armed robbery in a case in which it ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal. If you are accused of a violent offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a Clearwater kidnapping defense lawyer about your possible defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including armed robbery and kidnapping. He was found guilty and sentenced to live in prison as a repeat offender on the robbery and kidnapping charges. He did not contest his sentence or armed robbery conviction and, therefore, would spend life in prison regardless of the outcome of any appeal. He appealed regardless, arguing that his kidnapping conviction did not pass the Faison test and, therefore, should be vacated.

Proving Guilt for Kidnapping in the Context of Other Offenses

The court denied the defendant’s appeal and affirmed his conviction. In doing so, it explained that in Faison v. State, the Florida Supreme Court established a test for determining if there was sufficient evidence to convict a defendant for kidnapping, in addition to a primary offense, if the confinement or taking in question was allegedly done to assist the primary offense.

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When it comes to sentencing people for crimes, federal courts can consider a range of factors, including uncharged conduct. Uncharged conduct refers to any criminal activity that the defendant may have engaged in but for which they have not been formally charged or convicted. In a recent ruling, a federal court sitting in Florida explained when and how the courts may evaluate uncharged conduct when assessing an appropriate penalty in a case in which the defendant appealed his sentence for drug crime convictions. If you are charged with a drug offense, it is smart to meet with a Clearwater drug crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

The Defendant’s Sentence

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with numerous drug trafficking and weapons crimes. He was convicted and sentenced to 210 months in prison. He appealed, arguing first that the court erred in assigning narcotics seized during an investigation to him as relevant conduct for his two counts of conviction for possession with intent to distribute and second, by attributing the drugs to him because they were not part of the same common scheme or plan or course of conduct as the offense of conviction.

The Implications of Uncharged Conduct in Federal Criminal Matters

Upon review, the court affirmed the defendant’s sentence. In doing so, it explained that a federal court might consider uncharged conduct in determining an appropriate sentence. This includes all acts and omissions the defendant committed during the commission of the crime, when preparing for the crime, or in the course of trying to avoid detection for the crime. In this case, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to attribute drugs found during the criminal investigation to the defendant for the purpose of sentencing under the relevant-conduct guideline.

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Underage people living in Florida have the same rights as adults with regard to criminal investigations. In other words, they have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. As such, if the police impermissibly detain a minor, the minor arguably cannot be deemed guilty of the commission of any offenses that happen during their detention. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes a reasonable seizure of a minor in a case in which a juvenile defendant challenged her adjudication of delinquency for battery on a police officer. If you are currently charged with committing a crime as a juvenile, it is critical to speak to a Clearwater juvenile defense attorney to determine what defenses you might be able to set forth.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that a police officer observed the defendant sitting in a corner near the entrance of a high school after the school was closed. Out of concern for the defendant, who was a young female alone at night in an area with a high rate of crime, the officer approached the defendant and began questioning her. The defendant was reluctant to provide the officer with information; she stated she was waiting for a bus but did not have any bus information, and she declined to tell him her parents’ full names or her address.

Reportedly, the officer called for backup, after which the defendant ran away. The officers pursued the defendant on foot, caught and handcuffed her, and placed her in the back of a police vehicle. They checked on her about half an hour later and found her kicking the partition between the seats. They attempted to restrain her, and she kicked one of the officers in the chest. She was charged with battery of an officer but moved for judgment of dismissal on the grounds that her seizure was illegal. The court found her guilty, and she appealed.

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