A criminal defendant may face grave penalties if he or she is convicted of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Depending on the nature of the accusations against the defendant, however, he or she may be able to seek dismissal of the charges on the grounds that they are unconstitutional. A Florida court recently explained what a criminal defendant must demonstrate in order to have such charges dismissed in a case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous offenses arising out of a robbery. If you are charged with theft crimes or any other criminal offense, it is in your best interest to hire an aggressive Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.
Facts of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant was indicted and charged with numerous crimes, including Hobbs Act robbery in violation of federal law, and carrying a firearm which was used during the robbery, which was deemed a crime of violence. He pleaded guilty to those two charges, after which he was sentenced to fifty-seven months imprisonment for the robbery charge and one-hundred-and-eighty months imprisonment for the related firearm charge. He subsequently filed a motion, arguing that his conviction of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence was unconstitutional, as Hobbs Act robbery was not categorically defined as a crime of violence under the relevant statute. The court found that the defendant’s claims were without merit and denied his motion.
Crimes of Violence Under Florida Law
The court explained that the relevant statute stated that it was a crime for anyone to use a firearm during the commission of, or to possess a firearm in furtherance of, a crime of violence. Under the elements clause of the law, an offense is considered a crime of violence if it is a felony that has an element of the use or threatened or attempted use of force against another person or property.