Florida Appeals Court Affirms Aggravated Battery Conviction but Overturns Conspiracy to Deliver Cannabis Conviction

The punishments for Florida drug crimes are often harsh. The legislature has not only criminalized the possession of illegal drugs but also has criminalized a plan, or conspiracy, to sell illegal drugs. As shown in a recent Tampa drug crime case, law enforcement attempted to convict a defendant for conspiracy to deliver cannabis, even though there was likely never any intent to actually make a drug sale.Three friends from the Tampa area made arrangements to meet the defendants to acquire cannabis. One of the passengers called the co-defendant multiple times to find out where to meet. When they arrived at the designated meeting spot, there was no one to meet them. After five or six minutes, the passenger called again. The conversation was suspicious, and the passengers continued to wait in the car. The defendants walked up to the vehicle, where one of the passengers held cash out of the door. The defendant approached the vehicle with a square piece of paper to distract one of the passengers. Instantaneously, the co-defendant pulled a gun from his waistband. The driver sped away but only made it a few feet before the co-defendant fired and shot one of the passengers in the face, causing serious permanent injuries. Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant’s aggravated battery conviction but overturned his conspiracy to deliver cannabis conviction.

Although the co-defendant physically committed the battery offense, Florida law criminalizes accomplices to a battery. The State is required to prove that the defendant intended for the battery to occur and did some act or said some words that assisted or furthered the battery.

The court of appeals found the evidence at trial to be sufficient. It was possible that both defendants created the cannabis sale as a ruse to commit another crime. The defendant also acted as a distraction so that the co-defendant had time to retrieve his firearm from his pants and shoot one of the victims. It appeared as though it were a pre-planned, coordinated effort in which the defendant intended to participate.

However, the court of appeals reversed the conspiracy to deliver cannabis charge. Florida law requires that the defendant intended that cannabis be delivered and that the defendant agreed with another person to cause cannabis to be delivered. The court of appeals reviewed the trial transcript and concluded that the prosecution had not introduced any evidence, neither direct nor circumstantial, to prove those elements of the crime. The defendant did not have any cannabis at the time of the supposed drug deal. The court concluded that there was not any evidence to support that the defendants ever intended to actually consummate a drug sale.

Carefully choosing a defense lawyer with a record of successfully defending against marijuana and other drug charges to represent you is essential. Will Hanlon, an experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyer, has handled numerous drug crime charges, including cases dealing with marijuana. Don’t take an unnecessary gamble with your future. Call Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 as soon as possible if you’ve been arrested or questioned by law enforcement.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Court Rules that Liquid By-Product Counts in Meth Trafficking Case, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog, August 31, 2017

New Stand-Your-Ground Law at Issue in Tampa Murder Trial, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog, September 7, 2017

Aggravated Battery Conviction Upheld for Rowdy Florida Bar Patron, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog,