Florida Court Addresses the Dismissal of Prejudicial Charges

Generally, if people commit multiple criminal acts, they will be charged and tried for said offenses in a single case. If the crimes do not rely on the same evidence or otherwise overlap, however, they may be tried separately. This is especially true in cases in which evidence of one crime may be prejudicial to a defendant in a hearing for a different offense. In a recent Florida opinion, the court discussed the grounds for severing charges in a theft case in which it ultimately denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is smart to talk to a Clearwater theft crime lawyer attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant faced charges in a two-count superseding indictment, including theft of social security funds and forcibly assaulting a federal officer with a deadly weapon. The charges stemmed from allegations that the defendant’s deceased wife continued to receive Social Security benefits after her death, resulting in overpayments. Surveillance footage showed the defendant negotiating checks made payable to him with his deceased wife’s forged signature. When federal agents went to the defendant’s residence to investigate, he initially denied involvement but later admitted to the transactions.

Reportedly, however, when faced with arrest, the defendant refused to surrender, leading to a confrontation with federal agents where he threatened them with a deadly weapon. After the defendant was indicted, he filed a motion seeking to dismiss the assault charge, arguing it was unduly prejudicial and inflammatory. He also contended that the charges were not of the same or similar character, and the evidence did not overlap.

Dismissing Prejudicial Charges

The court ultimately denied the defendant’s motion, allowing the counts against him to proceed. Prior to doing so, the court considered Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which permits separate counts if they are of the same or similar character or connected with a common scheme or plan. Additionally, the court noted that Rule 14 allows for severance if the joinder of offenses appears to prejudice a defendant.

In the subject case, the court explained that evidence of the assault could be admissible in a trial on the theft charge to prove consciousness of guilt. Despite the fact that the events occurred at different times and places, the court found them to be sufficiently intertwined, as the Defendant’s alleged threats and actions demonstrated a desire to avoid arrest for the theft offense. Thus, the court denied Defendant’s motion.

Talk to a Dedicated Clearwater Attorney

People accused of theft crimes may be charged with other offenses as well, and in some cases, it will be beneficial to their defense to sever the charges. If you are charged with a theft crime, it is wise to talk to an attorney about your options. The Clearwater theft crime defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can offer you advice regarding your rights and potential defenses and help you to seek a just result. You can reach Hanlon Law by using our online form or by calling us at 727-897-5413 to arrange a conference.

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