Articles Posted in Sentencing

When sentencing a defendant following a conviction, the Florida courts will look at mitigating and aggravating factors to determine what constitutes an appropriate penalty. Typically, such analysis and sentencing occur shortly after a conviction. Merely because a significant amount of time has passed between a conviction and sentencing, however, does not mean that the sentence is patently cruel and unusual, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the defendant appealed his sentence for murder and other crimes, which was delivered thirty years after his conviction. If you are accused of a violent crime, it is crucial to retain a Tampa violent crime defense attorney to assist you in fighting to protect your liberties.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant went to a substance abuse rehabilitation facility, where he provided the staff with a motel room number. The victim, a nurse the defendant knew, was subsequently found dead in the motel room. The defendant was charged and convicted of first-degree murder. The trial court imposed the death penalty in accordance with the jury’s recommendation. The trial court’s decision was affirmed in 1996.

It is reported that the defendant was granted two additional sentencing proceedings. In the first new sentencing proceeding, in 2005, it was found that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, but the death sentence was affirmed. In the second sentencing proceeding, the defendant waived the right to a penalty-phase jury and the right to present mitigating evidence. The trial court imposed a death sentence after considering the aggravating factors and mitigating circumstances, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the courts have the authority to impose increased penalties on people deemed career offenders. Only certain offenses qualify for the purposes of determining whether a person is a career offender, though. In a recent drug trafficking case arising in a Florida district court, the court clarified the criteria for a career offender. If you are charged with a drug crime in Tampa, it is in your best interest to speak to a Tampa drug crime defense attorney about your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of conspiracy to manufacture, possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of crack cocaine, as well as possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The trial court imposed an enhanced sentence on the defendant due to the fact that he was considered a career offender based on previous felony convictions for crimes of violence or controlled substance offenses.

Allegedly, the defendant appealed, arguing that the court failed to consider the impact of United States v. Dupree on his sentence. The government was directed to respond, and the defendant had the opportunity to reply. The government filed a Response in Opposition, but the defendant did not file a reply within the given time. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, crimes are classified by degrees, with life felonies carrying the most significant penalties. It is critical that the courts classify criminal offenses accurately because if they fail to do so, it can result in improperly enhanced sentences. The impact of an inaccurate crime classification was demonstrated in an opinion recently delivered by a Florida court in which the court found that the defendant was entitled to an appeal after he was sentenced for a life felony when he was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, which is a first-degree felony. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is critical to retain a Tampa violent crime defense attorney who will fight to protect your interests.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant shot his girlfriend in front of multiple witnesses. In an attempt to hide the shooting, he hired a third party to murder the witnesses, one of whom lived. The defendant was then charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder with a weapon and two counts of first-degree murder with a weapon. The jury convicted him of attempted first-degree murder with a weapon as a principal due to the actions committed by his co-defendant.

It is reported that the jury did not issue a specific finding that the defendant used, displayed, or threatened to use a gun during the commission of the crime, however. Under Florida law, first-degree murder is a first-degree felony, but the trial court entered a judgment listing the offense as a life felony. The defendant then filed a petition for habeas corpus review, arguing that the court incorrectly enhanced his sentence. Continue Reading ›

People incarcerated in federal prisons typically have to serve the entirety of their sentences unless they are eligible for parole or get credit for good behavior. In some instances, though, federal prisoners may be able to obtain a compassionate release. Only reasons enumerated by statute qualify for release, however, as explained in a recent Florida case in which the court denied the request for compassionate release of a defendant convicted of robbery. If you are accused of robbery or another theft crime, it is prudent to consult a Tampa theft offense defense attorney to determine what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was convicted of numerous robbery-related crimes and sentenced to 270 months in federal prison. In addition to his robbery offenses, he had previously been arrested for several other crimes. He subsequently filed a motion for compassionate release pursuant to federal law on the grounds that he had multiple medical conditions and was exposed to an increased risk of COVID-19.

It is reported that the government opposed the defendant’s motion, noting that the defendant’s claimed conditions did not qualify as one of the medical conditions set forth in the statutory guidelines that constitute grounds for granting compassionate release. The court agreed with the government’s reasoning and denied the defendant’s motion. The defendant then appealed. Continue Reading ›

Many criminal defendants unwaveringly assert their innocence, but others choose to plead guilty in hopes of obtaining a favorable plea deal. State and federal law allows defendants to enter guilty pleas, as long as they do so willingly and with a clear understanding of the consequences of their decision, but if they do, they typically have limited chances to withdraw their plea. Recently, a Florida court analyzed when permitting a criminal defendant to change their guilty plea is appropriate in a case in which the defendant pled guilty to numerous crimes involving sex with a minor. If you are charged with a sex crime, you may face substantial penalties if convicted, and it is in your best interest to talk to a Tampa sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant lived with his girlfriend and her teenage son and daughter. For approximately one year, the defendant had sex with the daughter, who was sixteen at the time. The daughter cooperated with law enforcement and made calls to catch the defendant scheduling sex acts. The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with recruiting and soliciting a minor to engage in a commercial sex act.

It is reported that the defendant pleaded not guilty at his arraignment but requested a change of plea hearing a few months later, during which he requested to change his plea to guilty. The magistrate noticed he was hesitant and ended the hearing. The defendant requested a second change of plea hearing a week later, during which he stated that no one compelled him to plead guilty. Continue Reading ›

Generally, when imposing sentences for crimes, the courts are bound by the sentencing guidelines. They may issue sentences at the high or low end of the guidelines, however, and in some instances, they can deviate from the guidelines. The courts will consider numerous factors in determining an appropriate sentence but have the discretion to assign greater weight to some factors than others, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the court rejected the defendant’s assertion that his sentence for gun crimes was unreasonable in light of his personal characteristics. If you are charged with a weapons offense, you may face serious penalties, and it is advisable to confer with a Tampa gun crime defense attorney about your possible defenses.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant, who is a convicted felon, was arrested for possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon following a shooting at an apartment complex and a high-speed chase. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge against him pursuant to a plea agreement in which the government agreed to recommend that the court impose a sentence at the low end of the guidelines range.

Reportedly, a United States probation officer prepared a presentence investigation report in which he offered recommendations for the defendant’s sentence. He made a series of increases based on the nature of the defendant’s offense and the defendant’s extensive criminal history; based on the total offense level and criminal history, the probation officer calculated the sentencing guidelines range to be 84 to 105 months in prison. The court sentenced the defendant to 96 months in prison, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

People convicted as juveniles and sentenced to more than twenty years in prison are entitled to a sentence review after they have been imprisoned for twenty years. The sentencing court is not required to orally advise the defendant of such rights or set forth information regarding the right to review in the sentencing order, however. As such, the failure to do so will not constitute an error, as explained in a recent Florida opinion issued in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction. If you are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tampa criminal defense attorney about what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Procedural History

It is reported that when the defendant was 16 years old, he was charged with multiple crimes after he allegedly attacked his foster mother. He was convicted on all counts. Prior to sentencing, he sought a downward sentence due to the fact that he needed specialized treatment for a medical condition. The state opposed the imposition of a departure sentence on the grounds that the defendant had a lengthy criminal past and his criminal conduct was escalating.

Allegedly, the court rejected the defendant’s request for a downward departure and sentenced him to a total of 35 years imprisonment. It did not mention the right to a sentence review or set forth anything about such rights in the written sentence. The defendant moved to correct a sentencing error, arguing that because he was a juvenile at the time of his conviction, he was entitled to judicial review after he completed twenty years of his sentence. His motion was deemed denied, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

While identity theft typically does not cause bodily harm, it is nonetheless a serious crime, and many people convicted of such offenses can spend years in prison. Regardless of the nature of an offense, though, the punishment imposed must be reasonable; otherwise, it may be overturned. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes an appropriate sentence for aggravated identity theft and other offenses in a case in which it rejected the defendant’s appeal. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Tampa theft crime defense lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Historical Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with aggravated identity theft and access device fraud in violation of federal law. He pled guilty to both charges pursuant to a written plea agreement. The facts in the plea agreement indicated that the defendant obtained personal identifying data from over 100 victims and then used the data to access dormant credit cards or obtain new cards.

Reportedly, he then used the cards in stores throughout the country and sold the materials he purchased with the cards on the internet. The total financial losses caused by the theft exceeded $650,000. The court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, following the magistrate’s recommendation. It ultimately imposed a sentence of 96 months imprisonment, which was above the range set forth in the sentencing guidelines. The defendant appealed. Among other things, he argued that the sentence was unreasonable. Continue Reading ›

The United States Constitution includes numerous provisions that protect criminal defendants. Among other things, it dictates that they must be mentally competent before they can be tried for a criminal offense. Thus, if a criminal matter proceeds to trial despite concerns regarding a defendant’s mental competence, it may constitute a violation of their constitutional rights. Recently a Florida court explained what evidence a defendant must produce to show that a trial court harbored a bona fide doubt about their competence in a case in which the defendant appealed his sentence following his conviction for producing child pornography.  If you are charged with a sex offense, it is smart to meet with a dedicated Tampa sex crime defense lawyer to evaluate your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with two counts of producing child pornography. The case proceeded to trial, and he was convicted. The court subsequently sentenced him to 720 months in prison. The defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court committed an abuse of discretion by denying his motion to undergo a competency evaluation and hearing.

Establishing a Bona Fide Doubt About a Defendant’s Mental Competence

The court declined to adopt the defendant’s reasoning and denied his appeal. In doing so, it explained that it reviewed a district court’s failure to order a competency hearing under the abuse of discretion standard. Continue Reading ›

 Pursuant to Florida law, courts can impose greater penalties on people who are convicted of crimes if they were previously incarcerated. Only certain offenses allow for the imposition of increased sentences, though, and if a court improperly interprets the sentencing laws, the sentence imposed may be illegal. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the appellate court reversed a trial court ruling denying a defendant’s motion for resentencing. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to understand what sentences you may face if convicted, and you should speak to a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and convicted of numerous crimes, including burglary of a conveyance with battery or assault. After the trial court imposed its sentence, the defendant moved to amend it, arguing that it was illegal in that he was improperly sentenced as a prison releasee reoffender in violation of Florida law. The trial court denied his motion, after which the defendant appealed. The appellate court summarily affirmed the trial court’s decision, and the defendant moved for a rehearing.