Articles Posted in Armed Burglary

One of the protections afforded criminal defendants by the United States Constitution is the prohibition of double jeopardy. Double jeopardy prevents a defendant from being tried or convicted more than once for the same crime. While multiple criminal charges can arise out of a singular act if a defendant is convicted of lesser included offenses of the crimes charged that are essentially the same crime it will violate the rule against double jeopardy.

This was illustrated in a case recently decided by a Florida court of appeals, in which the court overruled a defendant’s dual burglary convictions due to double jeopardy, despite the fact that the crimes the defendant was charged with did not violate double jeopardy. If you are a resident of Clearwater facing criminal charges, it is prudent to meet with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.

The Defendant’s Charges and Convictions

Reportedly, the defendant entered the home of his victim without her consent. When the victim discovered the defendant, he pinned her against a wall and then fled. The defendant was later identified by the victim in a lineup. The defendant was charged with armed burglary, burglary with a battery and robbery with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the defendant argued that the dual burglary charges violated double jeopardy and asked the court to dismiss the second charge. The court declined the defendant’s request. A jury convicted the defendant of burglary, the lesser included offense of the armed burglary charge. He was convicted of burglary with battery and robbery with a deadly weapon as well. Following his sentencing, the defendant appealed.

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Criminal cases involving multiple defendants can be complicated. When defendants conspire to commit a crime, what crime each defendant is charged with depends on the original intent of the defendants, and whether the crimes ultimately committed fell within the scope of the initial plan. Under Florida law, the independent act doctrine allows a co-conspirator to avoid conviction for a crime if it was not foreseeable under the original plan.

In a recent case arising in a Florida Court of Appeals, the court explained when an instruction on the independent act doctrine is appropriate.  If you live in Clearwater and are facing criminal charges, you should consult an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and what defenses you may be able to set forth.

 Trial Testimony

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with first-degree felony murder and armed burglary. During the trial, the state presented evidence the defendant and three other individuals went to the victim’s apartment, with the intent to rob the victim. While he was in the victim’s apartment, the defendant took the victim into a room and threatened to kill the victim’s fiancé if the victim did not tell the defendant where drugs where hidden. Additionally, the defendant hit the victim in the head with a gun. The defendant subsequently told the victim’s fiancé he was going to kidnap the victim for ransom. The victim was forced into the trunk of his car which was driven from the scene by one of the defendant’s co-conspirators. The victim subsequently escaped from the trunk and was shot and killed by one of the defendant’s co-conspirators.

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Confidential informant evidence can make or break a criminal case in Florida. This evidence often includes secretly taped conversations between an informant and a person charged with a crime. Although there are a number of safeguards and defenses available to a person who is caught on tape talking about a potential crime, a recent case out of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal shows that such evidence may very well be admissible in court.A defendant was charged with a number of criminal offenses related to an armed burglary in a recreational vehicle park. Prosecutors alleged that the defendant and another man tried to rob a couple (Husband and Wife) for whom the defendant worked. The wife told the cops that two men – one of whom she recognized as the defendant – accosted her outside the couple’s RV. She said the other man hit her multiple times with a gun and demanded that she tell him where the couple kept their jewelry. The other man caught her and forced her to lie on the ground when the woman attempted to run away. Meanwhile, the defendant went back to the couple’s home, where a fight ensued with the husband. At some point, the husband chased the defendant back to the community entrance, where both of them fled the scene without any of the couple’s jewelry.

Police apprehended the defendant later the same day. He told the cops that the defendant and he had planned to go to the RV park to steal the victim’s Segway. He claimed he didn’t know that the other man had a gun until he took out the weapon and told the defendant they were going to take the jewelry. A police informant who first met the two men in jail approached the cops with information about the crime and later agreed to tape a conversation with the defendant. That conversation – which took place while both men were in a car, using drugs – was later played for the jury. In it, the defendant described participating in the burglary, according to the court. He was convicted, classified as a habitual offender, and sentenced to life in prison.

Affirming the decision on appeal, the Fourth District said the trial court properly allowed the defendant’s taped conversation with the confidential informant to be introduced as evidence. The court rejected his claim that the use of the tape violated his constitutional right to an attorney because the cops didn’t tell him that he had the right to a lawyer before the informant taped the conversation. Although statements made to an informant in jail may be covered by the right to counsel, the court noted that the defendant “was not in custody nor had he even been arrested for the charges when he confessed.”