Articles Posted in Murder

Courts and judges do not have total discretion when sentencing defendants who have been convicted of crimes. Along with the general sentencing guidelines that lay out the potential penalties for each crime, there are also a number of statutory factors that courts must consider. An experienced Clearwater violent crimes defense attorney can help you understand the potential penalties that you or a loved one may face if you are convicted of particular crimes.

Motion for Resentencing

In this case, a juvenile defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. However, after his conviction, he made a motion for resentencing under section 921.1401 of the Florida Statutes. That section addresses when life imprisonment is an appropriate penalty for a juvenile. It states that the defendant’s youth and the attendant circumstances should be considered, as well as the effect of the crime on the community and the victim’s family, the defendant’s age and maturity, the extent of the defendant’s participation in the offense, and other similar factors. Pursuant to this section, the court resentenced the defendant to 28 years in prison. In their order, the court addressed each of the factors one-by-one.

The justice system understands that sometimes an individual needs to use deadly force against another in order to defend themselves. “Self-defense” is what is called an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense means that the defendant is acknowledging that they committed the crime they are charged with, but that they had a reason that is legally sufficient to make them not culpable. In other words, typically the prosecution is the only side that needs to prove something. However, with an affirmative defense, the defense also has a burden now to prove the elements of the defense. This case addresses what specifically the defense needs to prove, and the jury instructions around this proof. If you are involved in a situation where you needed to use self-defense to protect yourself or another, you should contact a knowledgeable Clearwater violent crimes defense attorney to help you with your defense.

Facts of the Case

The defendant was charged with the first-degree murder of his employer/landlord and the attempted first-degree murder of a neighbor. There was a confrontation between the defendant and his landlord and he began shooting. The defendant alleges that he acted in self-defense based on his landlord reaching for a dark object in his pocket and previous threats by his landlord. The defendant also alleged that the neighbor threatened him as well and attempted to throw a microwave at him. The neighbor survived the shooting but the landlord did not.

The state’s version of events differed. They alleged that the defendant was the aggressor and that both of the victims were unarmed. Under this version of events, self-defense would not be an applicable affirmative defense, since it cannot be used when the defendant was the aggressor.

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A Florida man who was sentenced to four decades behind bars when he was 14 years old is getting a new chance at freedom after a recent decision from the Second District Court of Appeal.

Defendant was charged with first degree murder, stemming from an alleged 2010 robbery. One man was shot and three others were robbed during the incident. Witnesses told police officers the perpetrator—who made off with only a few dollars—was wearing a dark bandanna, possibly black, and carrying a black bag. Defendant went to a local police station two days later and confessed to the shooting. He said, however, that he didn’t rob the men and was simply acting in self-defense. Police officers later found a black bag with gun residue in it in Defendant’s home.

Defendant changed his story before trial. He said he was taking the blame for an older friend who committed the robbery and shot the man. The friend talked Defendant into making the false confession and even walked him to the police station, according to Defendant. But a neighborhood man testified at trial that he saw and briefly spoke with a person wearing a red bandana and carrying a black bag shortly after the shooting and near the place where the crime happened. The man wasn’t able to identify the person, but he said he was certain that it wasn’t the friend that Defendant said committed the crime. The man said he knew the friend, and was sure that he would have recognized the friend’s voice.

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