People convicted of felonies often lose certain rights, like the right to possess a weapon. As such, if they are subsequently found with a gun in their possession, they may be charged with a crime. Additionally, depending on their criminal history, they may be sentenced as a career criminal. In a recent Florida gun crime case, the court discussed the grounds for deeming a defendant a career criminal before ultimately determining the defendant was properly classified. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is smart to meet with a Tampa gun crime defense attorney to determine your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in 2021, during a traffic stop, the defendant was found in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He subsequently pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of federal law. Prior to sentencing, the probation office drafted a presentence investigation report that included an enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) due to the defendant’s three prior convictions for crimes that were either violent felonies or serious drug offenses.

It is reported that these convictions included two for aggravated assault in 2003 and 2015 and one for delivery of cocaine in 2007. The defendant objected to the ACCA enhancement, arguing that his prior convictions for aggravated assault did not qualify as violent felonies and his prior drug crime conviction did not qualify as a serious drug offense. However, the district court overruled his objections, deemed each conviction as qualifying under the ACCA, and imposed a 180-month sentence. The defendant appealed. Continue Reading ›

People convicted of disbursing drugs often face substantial sentences. While a subsequent intervening change in the law may impact the grounds for imposing a sentence in a drug crime case, it can be difficult to establish that such modifications are grounds for a sentence reduction, as discussed in a recent Florida ruling. If you are accused of distributing narcotics, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tampa drug crime defense attorney about your possible defenses.

Case Setting

Allegedly, in February 2013, the defendant pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of federal law. He failed to self-surrender after missing his initial sentencing, leading to a sentence of 262 months of incarceration followed by five years of supervised release. The sentence was not based on drug quantity guidelines but on his designation as a career offender due to two prior crimes.

It is reported that the defendant’s incarceration term was later reduced to 192 months for assisting police in a homicide investigation. Having served over ten years of his 192-month sentence, the defendant, aged 38, is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Bastrop, Texas, with a projected release date of May 24, 2026. While in custody, he faced over a dozen disciplinary incidents, including drug or alcohol possession and refusing work, with the most recent incident in April 2023. He then moved for a second sentence reduction. Continue Reading ›

People charged with violating Florida law often worry that they will inevitably be convicted. In criminal cases, though, the prosecution faces a high burden of proof, and there are frequently defenses criminal defendants can assert to establish that the prosecution’s evidence is inadequate to establish guilt. Similarly, if a person is convicted of a crime, they may have grounds for pursuing an appeal. In most cases, though, it is challenging for a person to convince the courts of their innocence without the assistance of an attorney, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling issued in a criminal case. If you are accused of engaging in criminal activity, it is smart to speak with a Tampa criminal defense attorney to gauge what defenses you may be able to assert.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant had a history of multiple post-conviction motions dating back to 1993 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, burglary with assault, and arson, receiving consecutive sentences totaling sixty years in prison. Over the years, he filed numerous post-conviction motions, with this case being just one among many. Despite previous warnings from the court about the consequences of filing further meritless pro se cases, the defendant continued to submit additional filings.

Allegedly, the defendant, representing himself, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the court. The court denied his petition and issued an order to show cause why the defendant should not be prohibited from making further self-represented filings related to a specific lower tribunal case number. Despite being given forty-five days to respond, the defendant did not file a response. Continue Reading ›

The Florida and United States Constitutions aim to protect the rights of people charged with crimes. This means, among other things, that if the prosecution violates a person’s rights at any point in a criminal proceeding, such violations also may constitute grounds for challenging convictions that were the end result of such proceedings. Merely because a person disagrees with a jury’s verdict does not mean a verdict is unjust, however, as demonstrated in a recent ruling delivered in a Florida burglary case. If you are accused of burglary, it is smart to speak to a Tampa theft crime defense lawyer concerning your rights.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the State charged the defendant with burglary of an occupied dwelling with assault and was subsequently convicted of the lesser included offense of burglary of an occupied dwelling. He moved for acquittal prior to the verdict, but the trial court denied his motion.

Allegedly, the defendant subsequently filed an appeal, raising three arguments: first, that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal, asserting that the State had not presented sufficient evidence of intent to commit an offense upon entry into the victim’s home; second, that he was entitled to a twelve-person jury under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and third, that the trial court erred in not granting his motion to correct a sentencing error regarding the imposition of a public defender fee.

Grounds for Reversing Convictions Continue Reading ›

Criminal defendants will often want to mount a vigorous defense against the charges they face. In some instances, though, they will find it beneficial to enter into a plea agreement. Sentences issued pursuant to such agreements must abide by the sentencing laws and guidelines; otherwise, they may be overturned. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida weapons crime case in which the defendant argued that his consecutive sentences were illegal and ultimately prevailed. If you are accused of a gun crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer to determine your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

History of the Case

It is reported that pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant was serving a twenty-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for aggravated assault with a firearm and discharge, as well as a consecutive five-year prison sentence, with a three-year mandatory minimum provision, for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The trial court imposed the sentences under section 775.087(2) of the Florida Statutes.

Allegedly, the defendant moved to correct his sentence, arguing that the consecutive sentencing structure was illegal because the crimes were committed during a single criminal episode with one victim and a single shot discharged that did not strike the victim. The trial court denied his motion, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, people generally have the right to carry firearms. There are exceptions to the rule, however. For example, people convicted of felonies can be charged with crimes for possessing weapons. Convictions for such offenses can carry significant penalties, and in many cases, it is unlikely that any subsequent changes in the law provide grounds for a reduced sentence, as explained in a recent Florida ruling. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is smart to contact a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer to determine your possible defenses.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the defendant pleaded guilty to possession of multiple firearms as a convicted felon and received a sentence of 97 months in prison, based on his offense level and criminal history category. Subsequently, certain sentencing adjustments were issued by the United States Sentencing Commission, including Amendment 821, which the defendant sought to apply retroactively to his case.

It is reported that the defendant particularly focused on the part of Amendment 821, which allows for a downward departure in a defendant’s criminal history category if certain criteria are met, including prior convictions for possession of marijuana for personal use. Additionally, he argued that the executive order issued by President Joe Biden granting pardons for simple possession of marijuana offenses applied to his case. As such, he sought a revised sentencing of 87 months or lower based on these developments. Continue Reading ›

People charged with sex crimes often fear that they will have to remain in jail until their trial is over. In many cases, though, the courts find it appropriate to release people charged with sex offenses on bond, which allows them to participate more fully in their defense. If a person out on bond is charged with a second offense, their bond may be revoked, however. In a recent Florida ruling, the court discussed grounds for revoking and reinstating bond in a criminal action.  If you are faced with charges that you committed a sex crime, it is imperative to meet with a  Tampa sex crime defense lawyer to discuss what you can do to safeguard your liberties.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the defendant faced numerous charges, including sexual battery upon a child under twelve, sexual activity with a child twelve to eighteen years old, lewd or lascivious conduct, and lewd or lascivious molestation. While out on bond for these charges, the defendant was arrested for domestic battery, leading to a second criminal case against him.

Reportedly, the court revoked the defendant’s bond in his first case due to the new offense. The State later dropped the domestic battery charge against the defendant, however, effectively ending the second case. The defendant then sought to reinstate his bond in his first case, arguing that since the second case against him was dismissed, there was no basis for bond revocation. The trial court denied the defendant’s request, after which he filed a petition for habeas corpus. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, it is not uncommon for people to be sentenced to a term of probation, either after or in lieu of a prison sentence. People sentenced to probation, or community control, must abide by the terms of their probation order, which, among other things, means they must not commit additional crimes. If they violate any of the order’s terms, their probation may be revoked. While probation revocation hearings are not criminal trials, people before the court for such hearings nonetheless have rights. Accordingly, if their rights are violated and it results in an unjust revocation of probation, there may be grounds for reversing the ruling against them, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you are charged with violating your probation, it is wise to talk to a Tampa probation violation defense lawyer about your rights and what defenses you may be able to assert.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the state filed an affidavit of violation of probation alleging that the defendant committed three new law violations: armed carjacking, grand theft of a vehicle in the third degree, and resisting an officer without violence. However, the written order of revocation outlined different violations, such as failing to undergo a mental health evaluation, not completing drug/alcohol treatment, failing to make restitution payments, possessing a weapon, failing to report to the community control officer, not staying confined to his approved residence, and failing to submit to electronic monitoring multiple times.

It is reported that during the revocation hearing, the defendant argued whether the carjacking should not be considered “armed.” Despite this, the trial court revoked the defendant’s probation, orally stating that he violated probation by committing the three criminal offenses mentioned earlier. The defendant then appealed. Continue Reading ›

People accused of crimes when they are minors will typically be charged as juveniles. Juvenile criminal defendants have the same rights as adults, and the procedural rules for juvenile hearings are largely the same as those applied in criminal trials. For example, the courts will adhere to the Florida rules of evidence when determining whether to admit evidence at a juvenile delinquency hearing, as discussed in a recent Florida case. If your child was charged with a criminal offense, it is smart to talk to a Tampa juvenile crime defense lawyer about what steps you can take to help protect their interests.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, who was a juvenile, was residing at a group home when he was seen hitting another resident. Law enforcement officers responded to the scene, and the juvenile defendant was subsequently arrested. The State filed a delinquency petition against the juvenile defendant, charging him with one count of simple battery. At the final adjudicatory hearing, as the victim failed to appear, the State sought to prove the offense through alternative means, primarily relying on the surveillance footage.

Allegedly, two witnesses testified to authenticate the footage: a group home employee who retrieved the video and a police officer who viewed the footage and retrieved it from the IT personnel at the group home. The court issued a final order adjudicating the juvenile defendant delinquent for battery and placing him under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice for one year. The juvenile defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting the surveillance footage into evidence during the adjudicatory hearing. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, when sentencing a person convicted of a crime, the courts will rely on numerous factors when determining an appropriate penalty, including victim injury points. Thus, if a sentencing court improperly adds victim injury points, the resulting sentence may be illegal, and there may be grounds for vacating it, as demonstrated by a recent Florida opinion delivered in a sexual battery case. If you are charged with a crime of a sexual nature, it is important to understand your rights, and you should meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant filed a motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) to correct an allegedly illegal sentence. The defendant argued that his life sentences for two sexual battery offenses were illegal because victim injury points were improperly added. The offenses occurred in 1988, and under the law at that time, victim injury points could only be added once per victim per criminal episode.

Reportedly, the defendant contended that he received victim injury points for three offenses, but there were only at most two criminal episodes involving a single victim. Removing 40 penetration points for one sexual battery would reduce his permissible guidelines sentencing range from life to 40 years in prison. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion and he appealed. Continue Reading ›