When a defendant is convicted of a crime and sentenced to probation, the court has broad leeway in determining what probationary terms are appropriate. While the court’s discretion is broad, it is not unbounded, however, and any conditions of probation must be reasonably related to the crime for which the defendant was convicted, as discussed in a recent Florida case in which the defendant objected to the terms of his probation after being convicted for multiple drug crimes. If you were charged with a drug offense or any other crime in Clearwater, it is wise to meet with a knowledgeable Clearwater drug crime defense attorney to discuss your case and potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple crimes, including possession of drug paraphernalia, cannabis, and methamphetamines. He was sentenced to imprisonment for 270 days, followed by probation. The terms of his probation required him to submit to a test for sexually transmitted diseases. The defendant appealed, in part, to challenge the test.

Conditions of Probation Under Florida Law

Under Florida law, a sentencing court has broad discretion in determining what special conditions to impose for a probation sentence, but the discretion is not without bounds. Instead, for a condition to be valid, it must be reasonably related to the rehabilitation of the defendant. In other words, it must have a relationship to the crime for which the offender was convicted, it must relate to the conduct which in and of itself is criminal, and it must forbid or require conduct that is reasonably related to future criminality.

Continue Reading ›

Many people convicted of sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders as part of their sentence, and if they fail to register, they can be charged with a criminal offense. Not all defendants who are convicted of sex crimes must register as sex offenders, however, as explained in a Florida appellate case recently in which the court affirmed the dismissal of an information charging the defendant with failing to register as a sex offender, finding that it was not required under the terms of his sentence. If you were charged with a sex crime in Clearwater, it is in your best interest to speak with a seasoned Clearwater sex crime defense attorney regarding what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that in 2002, the defendant was convicted of attempted lascivious and lewd molestation, after which he was sentenced to prison term of fifteen years and fined $10,000. After the defendant’s release from prison, the State filed an information alleging that the defendant failed to report to register as a sex offender, as required under Florida law. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information, arguing that he did not qualify as a sex offender under the law, and therefore was not required to register regardless of the fact that he had been released from prison, as his fine had not been released and discharged. The trial court agreed, dismissing the information. The State appealed the trial court ruling, and on appeal, the appellate court affirmed.

The requirement to Register as a Sex Offender

Under the applicable law, a sexual offender is a person convicted of one of many enumerated crimes, or a similar crime in another jurisdiction, who has been released from the sanction imposed for his or her conviction. Sanctions include but are not limited to incarceration and fines. In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant was convicted of one of the crimes listed in the Florida statute defining sex offenders.

Continue Reading ›

In many instances, when a defendant is charged with sexual battery, the State relies solely on circumstantial evidence in support of the allegations against the defendant. Thus, if the admissibility of any of the State’s evidence is questionable, it may be prudent for the defendant’s counsel to object to the introduction of the evidence, and the failure to do so may harm the defendant’s case. In some cases, however, a defense attorney’s strategic decision not to object to statements offered by the defendant may be a reasonable trial strategy, as discussed in a recent Florida appellate case in which the defendant argued that his conviction for sexual battery should be overturned due to ineffective assistance of counsel. If you are faced with charges that you committed a sexual offense, it is prudent to consult a capable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to develop a strategy to offer you a strong chance of a successful result.

Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of sexual battery, battery, and lewd or lascivious molestation. He moved for post-conviction relief, arguing in part that his trial counsel was ineffective for making certain evidentiary decisions during the trial. The court granted the motion in part, vacating the defendant’s conviction, after which the State appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Assessing the Reasonableness of a Defense Attorney’s Trial Strategy

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution grants criminal defendants the right to effective counsel. Thus, a defendant arguing he or she suffered prejudice due to ineffective assistance of counsel must establish that his or her counsel’s performance was objectively unreasonable and therefore fell below the prevailing professional standard. In order to show that counsel’s performance was unreasonable, a defendant must set forth evidence establishing that no other competent trial counsel would use the same strategy or make the same decisions as his or her counsel. In cases in which the court deems trial counsel’s performance unreasonable, it must then assess whether the performance caused the defendant to suffer prejudice.

Continue Reading ›

Criminal defendants are granted numerous rights under state and federal law, that aim to protect them from unjust outcomes. Notably, a criminal defendant’s rights are not extinguished if he or she is found guilty of a crime. Rather, criminal defendants are protected from unfair sentences as well. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate court case in which the court vacated the defendant’s fifty-year sentence for sexual battery, finding that it violated the defendant’s Eighth Amendment rights. If you are accused of committing sexual battery, it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful Clearwater sex crime attorney to discuss your rights and potential defenses.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of armed sexual battery in 2016, for offenses he committed when he was fifteen years old. He was subsequently sentenced to fifty years imprisonment. The defendant then filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing that the sentence violated his Eighth Amendment rights. The district court denied the motion, after which the defendant appealed.

Evaluating Whether a Sentence is Unjust

On appeal, the defendant argued that because he was a nonhomicide juvenile offender, his sentence violated Florida law, and he was entitled to relief. Upon review, the court noted that under Florida law, the constitutional prohibition against unusual and cruel punishment comes into play when a nonhomicide juvenile offender’s sentence does not afford him or her any meaningful chance for release based on demonstrated rehabilitation and maturity. The law is based on the position that imprisonment for a juvenile is qualitatively different than a comparable term for any adult. In further defining juvenile offenders’ rights with regards to sentencing, the Florida courts ruled that any lengthy term of years sentence imposed on a juvenile offender, which means any sentence longer than twenty years, does not provide a true opportunity for early release and may be vacated.

Continue Reading ›

The law affords many rights to people accused of sex crimes, such as the right to confront their accusers. In some instances, however, the court may determine that the rights of the alleged victim or privilege between the victim and another party outweigh the defendant’s rights, and bar the defendant from seeking protected communications or impressions. Recently, the District Court of Appeals of Florida, First District, discussed when a defendant’s Sixth Amendment Right to confront his or her accuser overrides a doctor-patient privilege, in a case in which the defendant was charged with molesting a minor. If you are charged with committing a Clearwater sex crime it is prudent to engage a seasoned defense attorney to assist you in fighting to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with committing multiple sex crimes against his adopted son, including sexual battery by a person in a position of familial authority and lascivious or lewd molestation of a child. Before the trial, the State produced two psychological assessments of the victim, that indicated issues with regards to his state of mind, credibility, and bias. The State then filed a motion for a protective order, barring the victim’s treating psychologists from testifying at trial. The trial court granted the order. During the trial, the State largely relied on the victim’s testimony regarding the alleged abuse. A jury found the defendant guilty of all charges, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in refusing to permit the defendant to introduce evidence from the victim’s treating psychologists.

Sixth Amendment Right to Confront Accusers

Under Florida law, the psychotherapist-patient privilege protects a person’s communications and records pertaining to mental health treatment from disclosure. While the law specifically provides for a waiver of the privilege in certain circumstances, none of them were present in this case. As such, the court analyzed whether the defendant was permitted to overcome the privilege to cross-examine the victim with information pertaining to his credibility and bias.

Continue Reading ›

When a person is charged with a crime, the State will generally seek to introduce any evidence of the person’s guilt. Thus, the State will often not only attempt to introduce facts that demonstrate that the defendant committed the crime, but also facts that suggest the defendant’s knowledge of his or her guilt or that show the defendant attempted to evade prosecution. In a recent case decided by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District, the court discussed whether a court is permitted to introduce evidence that a defendant charged with a sex crime attempted to commit suicide prior to his arrest. If you are a resident of Clearwater and are currently charged with a sex crime, you should consult a Clearwater sex crime attorney proficient in helping people seek just results.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Crime

Allegedly, the defendant was a former boyfriend of the victim’s mother, who previously resided with the victim and her mother. In 2016, the teenage victim told her father that the defendant touched her in an inappropriate and sexual manner when she was a young child. The victim also texted the defendant and told him that she remembered what he did, and asked her why he committed the inappropriate acts. Prior to charges being filed against the defendant, the police received a call regarding a suicide attempt. When they responded to the call, they found the defendant in a car with marks around his neck, and a noose in a tree in his yard. The defendant had tried to hang himself.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation and sexual battery on a person under twelve years old. During the trial, evidence was introduced regarding the defendant’s suicide attempt. A jury found the defendant guilty, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He appealed on several grounds, including the assertion that the trial court committed an error of discretion in introducing evidence of his suicide attempt. On appeal, the court affirmed his conviction.

Continue Reading ›

When a criminal defendant is convicted of a sex crime, the court is allowed to consider certain mitigating or aggravating factors, such as prior convictions or the lack thereof, in determining an appropriate sentence. When a court considers an impermissible factor in sentencing a defendant, however, it can be grounds to vacate the sentence, as demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate case. If you are faced with charges that you committed a sex crime, it is in your best interest to confer with a dedicated Clearwater sex crime attorney regarding your options for protecting your rights.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Offenses and Trial

It is reported that the defendant, who was 40 years old, picked up the victim, who was 16 years old while she was walking on the side of the road, and took her to his residence. The defendant then offered the victim Dilaudid, which they both injected, after which they had intercourse. The victim died later that evening from an accidental overdose. An autopsy revealed she had numerous drugs in her system, including a small amount of Dilaudid. It was not clear whether the Dilaudid contributed to her death. The defendant was charged with unlawful sexual acts with a person 16 or 17 years old and delivering controlled substances to a person under 18. He was convicted on both counts.

It is alleged that during the sentencing hearing, the judge stated that he was sure the State would have charged the defendant with homicide if the State had sufficient facts to do so. He also stated that the defendant was the main cause of the victim’s death. The defendant was subsequently sentenced to 13-year sentences, to be served consecutively, for each offense. The defendant appealed, arguing the trial court considered impermissible factors in issuing a sentence.

Continue Reading ›

When a person is required to register as a sexual offender it can impact his or her life long after the sentence for any crime is served. Florida strictly construes the sexual offender registration requirements, and a person may be required to register as a sexual offender even if he or she was not initially notified of the requirement. Recently, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, discussed the parameters for the requirement, in a case in which it overturned the trial court’s order obviating the defendant’s obligation to register as a sexual offender following a kidnapping conviction. If you are a resident of  Clearwater and are charged with a sex crime, it is prudent to consult a diligent Clearwater sex crime attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple crimes arising out of a kidnapping in 1994. He was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison, which was followed by five years of probation. He was sentenced to additional imprisonment due to probation violations and was not released from supervision until 2006.

It is alleged that the Florida legislature enacted a law three years after the defendant’s conviction, that required sex offenders to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). A sexual offender designation is based on criteria set forth under the law, and kidnapping is one of the enumerated offenses that require a person to register as a sexual offender.

Continue Reading ›

In some cases, it is prudent for a criminal defendant to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. A guilty plea does not always guarantee a lesser sentence; however, as the court is free to sentence a defendant to the maximum punishment permitted. The court is not permitted to exceed the maximum sentence, however, or the sentence may be deemed illegal. This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, in a case in which the defendant pleaded guilty to sexual battery and received a sentence in excess of the maximum sentence. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to meet with a skilled Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and pleaded to guilty three separate charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, arising out of separate acts. Prior to pleading guilty, the defendant entered into a plea agreement with the State, in which his collective sentences were not to exceed 100 years. The court disregarded the agreement, however, and sentenced the defendant to three concurrent 90-year sentences. The defendant filed a motion to correct the sentences, arguing that as sexual batteries were life felonies, but the court did not impose life sentences, the maximum term he could be sentenced for each offense was 40 years.

Reportedly, the court subsequently issued an order stating that the defendant withdrew his motion. The defendant filed a second motion, but it was never ruled on. Finally, the defendant filed a third motion to correct his sentence. The court denied the motion stating that the issue had previously been ruled upon, and the defendant appealed.

Continue Reading ›

It is well-known that there is a constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy, which is the term used for being tried or convicted more than once for the same criminal offense. This does not mean that a person cannot face multiple criminal charges for criminal conduct in a single criminal episode, however, as recently discussed by a Florida appellate court, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of both attempted lewd battery and unlawfully traveling to meet a minor. If you are a Clearwater resident faced with charges of a sex crime involving a minor or any other sex crime it is essential to retain an assertive Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to fight to protect your liberties.

Facts and Procedural Background

Allegedly, in June 2016, the defendant communicated online with an undercover police officer who was posing as a fourteen-year-old girl. During their conversations, the defendant offered to pay the girl money for sexual activity and arranged to meet the girl at her house. On the way to the agreed upon location, which the defendant believed to be the girl’s home, the defendant reportedly stopped to get cash and buy condoms. When he arrived at the home, he was arrested. He was subsequently charged with unlawful travel and attempted lewd battery.

It is reported the defendant moved to dismiss the attempted lewd battery charge, on double jeopardy grounds. The court ruled that although both crimes arose out of the same conduct, and a single criminal episode, it found that each charge required elements of proof that the other did not. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion and he pleaded no contest to the charges. He then appealed from the final judgment. Continue Reading ›

Contact Information