When a person is charged with a crime in Florida, the State sets forth the charges in an information. An information must set forth the facts regarding the alleged crime and the statute of the offense charged. An information is not immune from human error, and in some cases, the State will set forth the wrong statute, or indicate different statutes on which the charge is based in the heading and the body of the information. A Florida appellate court recently analyzed whether an inaccurate information was grounds for reversal of a conviction for driving with a revoked license, ultimately ruling that it was not. If you are a resident of Clearwater and face charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, it is prudent to retain a capable Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you formulate a defense.
The Charges as Set Forth in the Information
Allegedly, the defendant was stopped by a police officer for failing to wear his seat belt. When the officer asked the defendant for his driver’s license, the defendant stated that his license was suspended. The officer investigated the defendant’s identity and learned that the defendant’s license was in fact revoked due to three charges of driving while his license was suspended and charges of failing to appear. Additionally, the defendant was considered a habitual traffic offender.
It is reported that the defendant was arrested for driving while his license was revoked as a habitual offender. He was subsequently charged in an information. The heading of the information set forth one count of driving with license suspended – habitual offender. The body of the information, however, indicated that the defendant was charged with driving with license revoked – habitual offender. The defendant entered a negotiated plea to the charge of driving with a suspended license as a habitual offender. He was sentenced to jail time and probation. The defendant appealed, arguing that his sentence did not reflect the crime with which he was charged.
Discrepancies in the Information
Under Florida law, when there is a discrepancy in the offense charged in the heading of the information and the offense set forth in the body, the offense in the body is the offense with which the defendant is charged. As such, in the subject case the defendant was charged with driving while license revoked – habitual offender. The defendant argued, however, that he pleaded guilty to the charge of driving with a suspended license – habitual offender, and therefore, his conviction and sentence should be reversed. The court was not persuaded by this argument, finding that the record in its entirety indicated the correct charge. Specifically, the defendant was arrested for driving with a revoked license, and there was nothing to indicate he relied on the word “suspended” in entering his plea. Further, the court noted that driving with license suspended – habitual offender was not a crime that existed under Florida law. As such, the court affirmed the defendant’s sentence.
Meet with an Experienced Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney
If you live in Clearwater and are charged with driving while your license was suspended or revoked, it is in your best interest to meet with a Clearwater attorney experienced in defending people charged with driving with a suspended license to help you develop a strong defense. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will work tirelessly to help you obtain a successful result under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to set up a meeting.
More Blog Posts:
Court Rules a Judge can Consider an Arrest Without a Conviction During a Florida Community Control Revocation Hearing, February 4, 2019, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog