One of the protections afforded criminal defendants by the United States Constitution is the prohibition of double jeopardy. Double jeopardy prevents a defendant from being tried or convicted more than once for the same crime. While multiple criminal charges can arise out of a singular act if a defendant is convicted of lesser included offenses of the crimes charged that are essentially the same crime it will violate the rule against double jeopardy.
This was illustrated in a case recently decided by a Florida court of appeals, in which the court overruled a defendant’s dual burglary convictions due to double jeopardy, despite the fact that the crimes the defendant was charged with did not violate double jeopardy. If you are a resident of Clearwater facing criminal charges, it is prudent to meet with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.
The Defendant’s Charges and Convictions
Reportedly, the defendant entered the home of his victim without her consent. When the victim discovered the defendant, he pinned her against a wall and then fled. The defendant was later identified by the victim in a lineup. The defendant was charged with armed burglary, burglary with a battery and robbery with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the defendant argued that the dual burglary charges violated double jeopardy and asked the court to dismiss the second charge. The court declined the defendant’s request. A jury convicted the defendant of burglary, the lesser included offense of the armed burglary charge. He was convicted of burglary with battery and robbery with a deadly weapon as well. Following his sentencing, the defendant appealed.
Double Jeopardy Under Florida Law
The court noted the defendant was charged with two burglaries, one charge alleging battery and the other the use of deadly weapon. While the defendant was not convicted of burglary with a deadly weapon he was convicted of the lesser included offense, which violated double jeopardy. The State argued that the dual convictions were permitted by section 775.021 of the Florida Statutes, which allows for convictions for each offense committed during a single criminal act unless the offenses required the same elements of proof, were degrees of the same offense, or were lesser included offenses.
The court held that while the crimes with which the defendant was charged did not violate double jeopardy, the crimes for which the defendant was actually convicted violated double jeopardy. Specifically, the court noted that burglary is a lesser included offense of burglary with a battery. As such, the court found that the defendant was improperly convicted of both counts. The court ordered one conviction and the defendant’s sentence to be vacated and remanded the case for resentencing.
Meet with an Experienced Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal defendants have certain rights under the law that the State is not permitted to disregard. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a crime, it is important to retain an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will fight to help you retain your liberties. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney who can provide you with a thorough and vigorous defense. Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 727-897-5413 or via the online form to set up a meeting.
More Blog Posts:
Confidential Informant Tape Leads to Florida Burglary Conviction, April 13, 2018, Clearwater and St. Petersburg Criminal Lawyer Blog