In Florida, people convicted of offenses involving bodily harm to another individual may face a variety of penalties. For example, in addition to being sentenced to jail time and probation, a person may be ordered to pay restitution fees. The courts can only order a defendant to pay restitution for harm arising out of their conduct, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion delivered in a battery case. If you are charged with battery, it is smart to confer with a Clearwater battery lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the defendant, who was a minor, was arrested for battery. According to the allegations, the victim was involved in a physical fight with the co-defendant at a party. Subsequently, the defendant joined the argument and physically attacked the victim, hitting and kicking her in the back, face, and head. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was adjudicated delinquent.

It is not uncommon for people to be charged with multiple crimes stemming from a singular incident. While the State can lawfully bring such charges, the prosecution must nonetheless prove the discrete elements of each offense in order to obtain guilty verdicts. If the prosecution fails to meet this burden, it should not be able to obtain a valid conviction. Recently, a Florida court discussed what the State must show to establish guilt for kidnapping charges arising out of an armed robbery in a case in which it ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal. If you are accused of a violent offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a Clearwater kidnapping defense lawyer about your possible defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including armed robbery and kidnapping. He was found guilty and sentenced to live in prison as a repeat offender on the robbery and kidnapping charges. He did not contest his sentence or armed robbery conviction and, therefore, would spend life in prison regardless of the outcome of any appeal. He appealed regardless, arguing that his kidnapping conviction did not pass the Faison test and, therefore, should be vacated.

Proving Guilt for Kidnapping in the Context of Other Offenses

The court denied the defendant’s appeal and affirmed his conviction. In doing so, it explained that in Faison v. State, the Florida Supreme Court established a test for determining if there was sufficient evidence to convict a defendant for kidnapping, in addition to a primary offense, if the confinement or taking in question was allegedly done to assist the primary offense.

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When it comes to sentencing people for crimes, federal courts can consider a range of factors, including uncharged conduct. Uncharged conduct refers to any criminal activity that the defendant may have engaged in but for which they have not been formally charged or convicted. In a recent ruling, a federal court sitting in Florida explained when and how the courts may evaluate uncharged conduct when assessing an appropriate penalty in a case in which the defendant appealed his sentence for drug crime convictions. If you are charged with a drug offense, it is smart to meet with a Clearwater drug crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

The Defendant’s Sentence

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with numerous drug trafficking and weapons crimes. He was convicted and sentenced to 210 months in prison. He appealed, arguing first that the court erred in assigning narcotics seized during an investigation to him as relevant conduct for his two counts of conviction for possession with intent to distribute and second, by attributing the drugs to him because they were not part of the same common scheme or plan or course of conduct as the offense of conviction.

The Implications of Uncharged Conduct in Federal Criminal Matters

Upon review, the court affirmed the defendant’s sentence. In doing so, it explained that a federal court might consider uncharged conduct in determining an appropriate sentence. This includes all acts and omissions the defendant committed during the commission of the crime, when preparing for the crime, or in the course of trying to avoid detection for the crime. In this case, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to attribute drugs found during the criminal investigation to the defendant for the purpose of sentencing under the relevant-conduct guideline.

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Underage people living in Florida have the same rights as adults with regard to criminal investigations. In other words, they have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. As such, if the police impermissibly detain a minor, the minor arguably cannot be deemed guilty of the commission of any offenses that happen during their detention. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes a reasonable seizure of a minor in a case in which a juvenile defendant challenged her adjudication of delinquency for battery on a police officer. If you are currently charged with committing a crime as a juvenile, it is critical to speak to a Clearwater juvenile defense attorney to determine what defenses you might be able to set forth.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that a police officer observed the defendant sitting in a corner near the entrance of a high school after the school was closed. Out of concern for the defendant, who was a young female alone at night in an area with a high rate of crime, the officer approached the defendant and began questioning her. The defendant was reluctant to provide the officer with information; she stated she was waiting for a bus but did not have any bus information, and she declined to tell him her parents’ full names or her address.

Reportedly, the officer called for backup, after which the defendant ran away. The officers pursued the defendant on foot, caught and handcuffed her, and placed her in the back of a police vehicle. They checked on her about half an hour later and found her kicking the partition between the seats. They attempted to restrain her, and she kicked one of the officers in the chest. She was charged with battery of an officer but moved for judgment of dismissal on the grounds that her seizure was illegal. The court found her guilty, and she appealed.

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The federal legislature aims to prevent people with extensive criminal histories from continuing to violate the law. Thus, they enacted statutes that allow the federal courts to impose greater penalties on career offenders. Only people convicted of certain crimes will qualify as career offenders, though, as explained in a ruling recently issued in a Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous violent offenses. If you are dealing with accusations that you committed a crime of violence, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater violent crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

The Defendant’s Criminal History

It is alleged that when the defendant was serving a sentence in a Florida prison, he sent threatening letters to the state attorney’s office. He was subsequently charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and mailing threatening communications in violation of federal law. He pleaded guilty to all charges.

It is reported that the probation office then issued a report classifying the defendant as a career offender on the grounds that he had at least two prior felony convictions for crimes of violence. Specifically, he was previously convicted of robbery, aggravated battery, and mailing threatening letters. The defendant objected to the report, arguing that only one of his prior convictions was for a violent crime and, therefore, he was not a career offender. The court overruled his objection and applied the career offender enhancement, sentencing the defendant to ten years in prison. The defendant appealed.

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Under Florida law, a person can be arrested for and charged with a DUI offense absent evidence of their blood alcohol level. There are nonetheless limitations on when a police officer is permitted to arrest a person for misdemeanor DUI, though, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling in which the court ultimately overturned the defendant’s conviction. If you are charged with a DUI offense,  it is in your best interest to speak with a Clearwater DUI defense lawyer about your options for seeking a just outcome.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that a police officer was summoned to the scene of an accident by a public safety aid. The officer then arrested the defendant for a misdemeanor DUI based solely on the information provided to him by the public safety officer and his road sobriety investigation. The officer did not conduct an investigation of the accident or observe the defendant operating or exercising actual physical possession over the vehicle involved in the accident.

Reportedly, the defendant pled no contest to the charge but reserved her right to appeal the issue of the lawfulness of her arrest. The state conceded it made an error on the issue of whether the defendant’s arrest was lawful. Thus, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction.

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Generally, the law precludes Florida courts from introducing evidence of a defendant’s prior misdeeds in order to establish their guilt. They can offer such evidence to the judge or jury for other reasons, though, as long as it does not become a central feature of the case. In a recent Florida opinion, the court discussed the factors that weigh into whether evidence of prior bad behavior should be admitted at trial in a sexual battery case in which it ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal. If you are accused of committing a sex crime, it is smart to confer with a Clearwater sex crime defense attorney about your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the state charged the defendant with sexual battery of a child under the age of 12. During the trial, the prosecution presented witnesses who testified that the defendant sexually abused them when they were between 6 and 8 years old, which was similar to his alleged sexual abuse of the victim in the subject case. The jury convicted the defendant. The defendant then filed an appeal.

Admission of Prior Bad Act Evidence

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in permitting the prosecution to introduce evidence of his prior wrongs or acts of child molestation. The court disagreed and affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court explained that although some of the prior bad acts happened several years before the subject offense, that is merely one factor for the courts to consider when weighing whether to admit such evidence.

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The Florida Constitution generally grants criminal defendants the right to pretrial release. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when the conditions of release are inadequate to protect people in the community from the risk of physical harm or when the defendant is charged with a dangerous crime. Only certain offenses fall under the umbrella of dangerous crimes, though, as discussed in a recent Florida case in which the defendant charged with soliciting first-degree murder and other crimes successfully challenged his pretrial detention. If you are faced with charges that you committed a violent crime, it is essential to ensure that your rights are protected, and it is in your best interest to speak to a Clearwater violent crime defense attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the state charged the defendant, who was a corrections officer, with numerous offenses, including solicitation of first-degree murder and multiple narcotics crimes. The state then filed a motion for pretrial detention pursuant to Florida law while the defendant moved to set bond. The court held an evidentiary hearing, during which it found that the defendant was charged with a dangerous crime and there was a significant likelihood that he committed the crime.

It is reported that the court also determined that the defendant presented a threat to the community and that no conditions of release would protect the people in the community from the risk of harm. Thus, the court granted the state’s motion for pretrial detention. The defendant filed a motion for reconsideration, which the court denied. He then petitioned the court for writ of habeas corpus.

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The majority of DUI arrests arise out of traffic stops. While the police are permitted to stop motorists they suspect are driving while intoxicated and ask them to submit to breathalyzer tests, there are limits to their authority. For example, as explained in a recent Florida case, if they instigate traffic stops outside of their jurisdiction, any evidence garnered during the stop may be inadmissible. If the state accused you of committing a DUI crime, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater DUI defense lawyer about your potential defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that an officer stopped the defendant due to suspicion of drunk driving. During the stop, the defendant admitted to consuming alcohol, had glassy eyes, and smelled of alcohol. He submitted to field sobriety tests, after which he was arrested for DUI. He was transported to a police station in another town, where he was administered a breath test. The results of the breath test showed that his blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit.

Allegedly, the state formally charged the defendant with DUI. He filed a motion in which he asked the court to suppress the results of the breath test on the basis that the arresting officer was outside the city limits of his jurisdiction at the time he asked the defendant to submit to the breath test. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, suppressing the breath test results. The state appealed.

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The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people against unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, absent a warrant, they cannot be searched, and their property cannot be taken by the police as part of a criminal investigation. There are exceptions, though, including border searches. Recently, a Florida court examined a traveler’s constitutional right to be free from searches in a case where the defendant was charged with numerous sex crimes after his phone was taken upon his entry into Florida. If you are accused of a sex offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a  Clearwater sex crime defense lawyer about what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant returned to Florida after an international cruise. One week prior, the Coast Guard contacted border patrol to inform them that the defendant was the target of a human trafficking investigation. When the defendant arrived at the port, he was detained by border patrol, and his phone was seized and sent to a Homeland Security office, where data was extracted from it and it was analyzed.

Allegedly, about two months later, the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant, largely relying on the information taken from his phone. The defendant was ultimately arrested and charged with ten crimes, including sex trafficking, fraud, and coercion. He moved to suppress the evidence obtained from his phone, arguing that the seizure and search happened without probable cause, a warrant, or exigent circumstances.

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