Articles Posted in Violent Crimes

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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The federal legislature aims to prevent people with extensive criminal histories from continuing to violate the law. Thus, they enacted statutes that allow the federal courts to impose greater penalties on career offenders. Only people convicted of certain crimes will qualify as career offenders, though, as explained in a ruling recently issued in a Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous violent offenses. If you are dealing with accusations that you committed a crime of violence, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater violent crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

The Defendant’s Criminal History

It is alleged that when the defendant was serving a sentence in a Florida prison, he sent threatening letters to the state attorney’s office. He was subsequently charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and mailing threatening communications in violation of federal law. He pleaded guilty to all charges.

It is reported that the probation office then issued a report classifying the defendant as a career offender on the grounds that he had at least two prior felony convictions for crimes of violence. Specifically, he was previously convicted of robbery, aggravated battery, and mailing threatening letters. The defendant objected to the report, arguing that only one of his prior convictions was for a violent crime and, therefore, he was not a career offender. The court overruled his objection and applied the career offender enhancement, sentencing the defendant to ten years in prison. The defendant appealed.

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The Florida Constitution generally grants criminal defendants the right to pretrial release. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when the conditions of release are inadequate to protect people in the community from the risk of physical harm or when the defendant is charged with a dangerous crime. Only certain offenses fall under the umbrella of dangerous crimes, though, as discussed in a recent Florida case in which the defendant charged with soliciting first-degree murder and other crimes successfully challenged his pretrial detention. If you are faced with charges that you committed a violent crime, it is essential to ensure that your rights are protected, and it is in your best interest to speak to a Clearwater violent crime defense attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the state charged the defendant, who was a corrections officer, with numerous offenses, including solicitation of first-degree murder and multiple narcotics crimes. The state then filed a motion for pretrial detention pursuant to Florida law while the defendant moved to set bond. The court held an evidentiary hearing, during which it found that the defendant was charged with a dangerous crime and there was a significant likelihood that he committed the crime.

It is reported that the court also determined that the defendant presented a threat to the community and that no conditions of release would protect the people in the community from the risk of harm. Thus, the court granted the state’s motion for pretrial detention. The defendant filed a motion for reconsideration, which the court denied. He then petitioned the court for writ of habeas corpus.

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If a defendant is convicted of a federal crime, the courts will consider numerous factors in determining an appropriate sentence. Among other things, the courts will assess whether the defendant brandished a firearm during the commission of the unlawful acts and whether the offenses in question constitute crimes of violence as defined by federal law. The issue of what crimes are deemed violent is often contemplated by the federal courts. Recently, the United States Supreme Court definitively ruled that an attempted Hobbs Act robbery does not fall under the definition. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater violent crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and a co-conspirator attempted to rob an individual selling drug. The individual was shot during the attempted robbery. The defendant was subsequently charged with numerous crimes, including attempted Hobbs Act robbery and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery. His indictment also alleged that both offenses were predicate crimes of violence. The defendant entered a guilty plea to use a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery.

It is reported that the prosecution agreed to dismiss the remaining charges. The defendant was ultimately convicted of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. He sought habeas review, asking the Court to vacate his conviction and remand the matter for resentencing on the grounds that the predicate offenses were not, in fact crimes of violence. The appellate court granted the appeal, and the government appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

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Under Florida law, the use of force is acceptable in certain circumstances. As such, a person charged with a crime involving the use of deadly force may be able to argue that the actions out of which the charges arose were justifiable self-defense. Self-defense is not justified if a person was committing or trying to commit a forceable felony when the act occurred, however. In a recent Florida case, a court issued an opinion discussing what forcible felonies preclude a defendant from arguing he acted in self-defense, in a case where the court ultimately affirmed the defendant’s convictions for third-degree murder and other offenses. If you are accused of a violent crime, it is smart to speak to a skilled Clearwater violent crime defense lawyer regarding your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the state charged the defendant with numerous offenses after he shot a man who threatened his friend on social media. The man ultimately died as a result of his wounds. Following a trial, a jury convicted the defendant of third-degree murder with a weapon, grand theft of an automobile, and two counts of false imprisonment with a gun. The defendant appealed, arguing in part that the trial court gave an improper jury instruction regarding the justifiable use of force and that the homicide was self-defense. The appellate court rejected his assertions and affirmed his convictions.

Self-Defense in the Context of Forcible Felonies

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court made a fundamental error by instructing the jury regarding the justifiable use of deadly force where there was no independent forcible felony and that in doing so, the trial court prevented the jury from accepting his self-defense argument. The forcible felony instruction provided stated that deadly use of force is not permitted if the defendant was attempting to commit or committing numerous crimes, including third-degree murder.

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In Florida, people can be charged with assault and other violent crimes, even if they simply intend to damage property. Regardless of the nature of the crime a defendant is accused of committing, though, the State must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, and if it fails to do so, the defendant should not be found guilty. Recently, in a matter where the defendant was accused of committing multiple offenses after he hit a mail truck, a Florida court issued an order clarifying the evidence the state must produce to show guilt for assault and criminal mischief. If you’ve been charged with assault or another violent offense, it is in your best interest to speak with a reputable Florida criminal defense lawyer about your options.

The Alleged Crime

Allegedly, the victim was in the driver’s seat of a mail truck when the defendant hit the truck with a large board. At the moment of the initial strike, the victim was sorting mail and heard a loud bang. When he looked up, he saw the defendant strike the truck with the plank a second time. When the victim began to drive the vehicle away, the defendant struck the truck with the plank once more. The victim dialed 911 once he was at a safe distance. The defendant was eventually apprehended and charged with criminal mischief in the first degree, aggravated assault, and other charges. He sought a dismissal of the assault and criminal mischief charges, but his motion was denied, and he was found guilty. He then filed an appeal.

Evidence Needed to Convict a Defendant Charged With Assault

The defendant’s conviction for assault was upheld on appeal. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s contention that the State did not offer evidence sufficient to prove that he committed an act that was significantly likely to put the victim in fear of imminent harm. Instead, the court determined that the evidence, when assessed in a light most favorable to the state, was adequate to show that the defendant knew the victim was in the truck when he hit it. Specifically, he struck the truck three times at the driver’s side door, the third strike coming after the truck had gone forward. Continue Reading ›

In criminal matters, the prosecution bears the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the charged offense. Generally, the prosecution is permitted to introduce any relevant evidence in support of its position. Certain evidence, like prior convictions or bad acts, is typically deemed inadmissible, however, subject to certain exceptions. Recently, a Florida court discussed the instances in which the Government is allowed to introduce evidence of prior crimes and bad acts, in an opinion issued in a case in which the defendant moved to preclude evidence of his prior conviction for brandishing a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is smart to speak to a trusted Clearwater violent crime defense lawyer to discuss what evidence the Government may use against you.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with an unspecified criminal offense. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to preclude the Government from introducing evidence that he was previously convicted of brandishing a firearm during the commission of a crime. Specifically, the defendant argued that it was an extrinsic act that only served to impermissibly demonstrate a propensity to commit crimes of violence or brandish firearms, and any probative value was greatly outweighed by the risk of prejudice.

Allegedly, in response, the Government argued that the evidence was intrinsic, and therefore the prohibition of prior crimes did not apply, but that even if it was extrinsic, the prejudicial effect did not outweigh its probative value. After considering the pleadings, the court ultimately denied the defendant’s motion. Continue Reading ›

Under Florida law, a person does not actually have to participate in the physical act of killing another human to be charged with offenses related to the murder. In other words, a person who helps another person plan and commit a murder may be charged as a principal to first-degree murder. In a recent opinion, a Florida court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence that a person aided and abetted another individual in the commission of a homicide in a case in which a woman allegedly convinced her boyfriend to kill her husband. If you are charged with a murder offense, it is critical to meet with a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts Surrounding the Murder

It is alleged that the defendant began having an extramarital affair with her husband’s best friend. The defendant did not want to obtain a divorce because she did not want to share custody of her young daughter. Therefore, she and the friend discussed a plan where the friend would take the husband duck hunting and push him into the water while he was wearing waders so that he would drown.

It is reported that things originally went as planned, but the husband was able to swim to shore and scream for help. The friend then shot and killed the husband and buried his body in another location. The friend and the defendant later married, but their marriage fell apart, and during the course of their divorce, the friend kidnapped the defendant. After the friend’s arrest, he admitted to the murder and relayed the defendant’s part in the crime. She was charged with and convicted of principal to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, after which she appealed.

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If you are convicted of a crime, that does not necessarily mean you can no longer appeal your conviction or sentence. If subsequent rulings determine that a law or method used to evaluate your guilt is unconstitutional, your conviction may be overturned or your sentence may be reduced.

For example, in a recent case, a Florida Court of Appeals held that a defendant convicted of crimes of violence may be entitled to have a jury re-evaluate his sentencing due to recent case law that determined the method previously used to evaluate crimes of violence for purposes of enhanced sentencing was unconstitutionally vague. If you are a Clearwater resident charged with a crime you should consult an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to determine how previous convictions may affect your case.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Subsequent Appeal

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple crimes, including knowingly carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which permitted enhanced penalties for defendants with prior convictions. The defendant’s total sentence was 335 months in prison, which included 120 months for the section 924 charge. Shortly after the defendant was sentenced, the United States Supreme Court determined in Johnson v. United States that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) was void due to vagueness. The defendant subsequently moved to vacate his sentence for the section 924 violation, arguing that his conviction was invalid under Johnson. The court denied his motion, holding that Johnson did not render section 924 unconstitutional. The defendant appealed.

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