Florida Court Explains Crimes of Violence Under Federal Law

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.

Under the residual clause of the statute, a crime of violence can also be a crime that, by its very nature, involves a significant risk that physical force will be used against another person or against a property. As the residual clause was deemed unconstitutional, a court must determine whether a crime meets the definition under the elements clause, to determine whether a defendant’s conviction is valid. Here, the Hobbs Act defined robbery as the unlawful taking of property from another person by means of threatened or actual force. Thus, it constituted a crime of violence, and the defendant’s conviction was upheld.

Meet with a Trusted Clearwater Attorney

If you live in Clearwater and are charged with theft or another crime, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer to discuss what arguments you may be able to set forth in your defense. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney with ample experience defending people charged with a variety of offenses, and he will work tirelessly to help you seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. Mr. Hanlon can be reached through the form online or by calling 727-897-5413 to schedule a meeting to discuss your charges.

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