Articles Posted in Weapons

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 ›

The Constitution affords criminal defendants numerous rights, including protections against stops or searches without a warrant. There are some exceptions to the warrant requirement, though, such as when an officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that a person is committing a crime. In a recent Florida opinion in a gun crime case in which the defendant argued his stop was unlawful, the court explained what factual scenario supports a probable cause finding. If you are charged with a gun crime, it is important to talk to a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that in December 2022, around midnight, a police officer noticed two individuals attempting to conceal themselves behind shipping containers at a big box store. The male, later identified as the defendant, was directed by the police officer to put down his bicycle and follow him to his squad car. The defendant resisted, leading to a chase. After catching up, the police officer tackled the defendant, and a subsequent search incident to arrest revealed a Taurus .357 revolver.

It is reported that the defendant, a convicted felon, was charged with knowingly possessing a firearm in violation of federal statutes. He filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained by the officer, arguing that the stop and seizure was unlawful, as the officer lacked reasonable suspicion for the detention. Additionally, the defendant argued a Miranda violation, asserting he was questioned without proper warnings.

Reasonable Suspicion in Criminal Cases

The court ultimately rejected the defendant’s argument regarding the stop. In doing so, it explained that brief investigatory stops are permissible if supported by probable cause or reasonable suspicion. The court emphasized that law enforcement officers can detain individuals based on probable cause to believe they committed an offense. Continue Reading ›

Pursuant to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, people have a right to bear arms, which means that they are generally permitted to possess firearms. There are restrictions to the right, though; for example, people are prohibited from possessing guns in certain settings, typically deemed sensitive places. As held by a Florida court in a recent opinion, though, all government buildings do not necessarily constitute such places. If you are accused of possessing a gun in violation of the law, it is wise to meet with a Tampa gun crime defense lawyer regarding your rights.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that the defendant, a U.S. Postal Service semi-truck driver in Tampa, was charged with carrying a concealed firearm onto federal property. The charges arose after the defendant, holding a Florida concealed carry permit, brought a Smith & Wesson 9mm firearm in a fanny pack for self-defense during work.

It is reported that in September 2022, agents from the U.S. Postal Service attempted to detain the defendant, leading to an arrest after an attempted escape. The defendant was charged with possessing a firearm in a federal facility and for forcibly resisting arrest. He moved to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that the law that criminalized possession of firearms in federal facilities was unconstitutional as applied to him and that he resisted an unlawful arrest. Continue Reading ›

At both the state and federal levels, sentencing guidelines set forth what constitutes an appropriate sentence for certain offenses. The courts are not bound by the guidelines, though, and can issue a sentence that is greater or lesser than that suggested. In doing so, the court must abide by certain procedural rules, and if it fails to, the defendant may have grounds for challenging the sentence. Recently, a Florida court examined whether a court violated a defendant’s rights in issuing a sentence that represented an upward variance for a gun crime, ultimately determining that it did not. If you are accused of unlawfully possessing a weapon, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa weapons crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty, after which he was sentenced to unlawfully possessing a firearm as a felon. Although his advisory guidelines range was calculated as 21 to 27 months’ imprisonment, the court sentenced him to 50 months. The defendant appealed.

Sentence Variances in Florida Criminal Cases

On appeal, the defendant argued that his sentence constituted an upward departure rather than an upward variance. The court disagreed, however, ruling that the defendant’s sentence was an upward variance based on the trial court’s stated reasons for imposing it. Specifically, the court found that the trial court did not refer to a departure provision and that the grounds the trial court gave for the sentence were based on the factors outlined in the imposition of a sentence law. Thus, the court declined to adopt the defendant’s arguments that the trial court erred in failing to comply with established procedures for imposing an upward departure. Continue Reading ›

In Florida criminal matters, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt. While the prosecution can use circumstantial and direct evidence to establish that a defendant committed a crime, it cannot rely on facts not in evidence, as explained by a Florida court in a recent case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. If you are accused of a gun offense, it is smart to speak to a Tampa weapons crime defense attorney about your options for protecting your rights.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the State charged the defendant with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. During the trial, the State presented testimony from a police officer that came in contact with the defendant during an investigation. The officer stated that the defendant told him he had a gun in his possession.

It is alleged that a second officer testified, corroborating the first officer’s report. The defendant testified and denied making the aforementioned statements or possessing a gun. During the State’s closing argument, the prosecutor told the jury the defendant was not reliable and implied that the second testifying officer was credible because he had not been convicted of a felony. Defense counsel objected, but the court overruled the objection. The jury convicted the defendant, and he appealed. 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 ›

State and federal law generally preclude people convicted of felonies from owning weapons. As such, if a law enforcement agent finds a firearm in the possession of a convicted felon, it could lead to criminal charges. A person must be aware that he or she is a felon to be convicted of violating the federal law barring possession of a firearm by a felon.

Merely because an indictment for unlawful possession of a firearm fails to include the knowledge element of the offense does not mean the defendant was automatically prejudiced, though. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case, in which the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. If you are charged with a gun crime, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Tampa weapons crime defense lawyer to discuss your case.

The Defendant’s Indictment and Conviction

Allegedly, a police officer approached a group of people on a street corner when he saw one of the men point a gun at the crowd. A chase ensued, and the police eventually apprehended and arrested three men, including the defendant. The defendant was indicted for numerous offenses, including being a felon in possession of a gun. After he was indicted, the Supreme Court issued a ruling stating that a defendant must know he belongs to a class of people barred from owning firearms to be convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun.

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It is important for all Tampa citizens to know what rights they are afforded under the law. For example, with some exceptions, the police are not permitted to search your property without a warrant or your consent. If you grant the police access to your property, however, it is possible that any evidence of a crime found during a search of the property could be used against you, even if you were not suspected of a crime prior to the search.

This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in which the defendant’s conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm was upheld after he gave the police permission to search his garage. If you are a resident of Tampa currently charged with a weapons crime, you should meet with a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction

Allegedly, the incident in question began when police officers arrived at a residence with a warrant, looking for a shooting suspect. The defendant, who was not the suspect at the time, suggested they check the garage. The police saw a gun on a table and seized and disarmed it. The officer also called the serial number into the police system to determine whether it was stolen. The defendant was standing nearby, unrestrained, during the investigation, and advised the officers he had been to prison. The defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. During his trial he filed a motion to suppress evidence of the firearm, arguing that it was obtained via an illegal search and seizure. The court denied the motion and the defendant was convicted. He subsequently appealed, arguing that the trial court wrongfully denied his motion and that his prior convictions did not qualify as violent felonies.

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Courts in the United States will look very closely at allegations of prejudice during a trial. In the courtroom, prejudice does not always mean the same things that it means outside of the courtroom. Generally, prejudice involves prejudging someone based on stereotypes or preconceived notions about who they are, often based on race, gender, etc. In the courtroom context, prejudice involves the jury believing that someone is guilty based on something other than the evidence. Prosecutors, as representatives of the state, have a special interest and responsibility toward a just outcome. Thus, they may be held to a higher standard. Judges may look at the behavior of the prosecutor to analyze it for potential misconduct and/or whether it was prejudicial.

Prosecutorial Misconduct

This case was heard by the Florida Second Circuit Court of Appeal. In his initial trial, the defendant was charged with robbery with a deadly weapon. The jury found him guilty of that charge. On appeal, the defendant asserted a number of different claims. One of the claims that the defendant brought on appeal was an allegation of prosecutorial misconduct. Specifically, the defendant argued that it was error for the court to have allowed the prosecutor to suggest that the victim changed his story between the robbery and the trial due to actions by the defense counsel.