In Florida, most DUI arrests arise out of traffic stops. The police generally must have reasonable suspicion that a motorist is committing a crime or violating a traffic law in order to lawfully stop them, however, and if they do not, any evidence obtained during the stop arguably should be deemed inadmissible. In a recent Florida DUI case, the court discussed the grounds for granting and sustaining a motion to suppress evidence gathered during a traffic stop. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is advisable to talk to a Tampa DUI defense attorney about what defenses you may be able to assert.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that an officer, equipped with over 17 years of experience as a DUI enforcement officer, observed the defendant’s vehicle driving 83 miles per hour in a zone with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. The officer initiated a traffic stop after the defendant abruptly came to a halt in a turn lane rather than gradually slowing down. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer detected a strong odor of alcohol emanating from it and noticed a half-filled cup of liquid on the floorboard behind the passenger seat. The officer also observed that the defendant had bloodshot and watery eyes and slurred speech.

Florida law permits the courts to not only sentence people convicted of crimes to imprisonment but also to order them to pay restitution to their victims. Recently, a Florida court discussed the basis for imposing a restitution order in a battery case in which it affirmed the trial court’s sentence. If you are accused of battery, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa violent crime defense attorney to determine what arguments you may be able to assert in your defense.

Factual and Procedural Overview

It is reported that the defendant faced charges of high-speed or wanton fleeing, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on law enforcement officers, and resisting officers without violence. His charges stemmed from a single incident in which he was involved in a car chase and reportedly rammed his truck into sheriff’s deputy vehicles. During the trial, conflicting evidence arose regarding whether the defendant’s vehicle hit the deputies’ cars or vice versa. The jury found him guilty of attempted aggravated battery and acquitted him of the principal offense of aggravated battery.

Allegedly, following the defendant’s conviction, the trial court sentenced him to prison and ordered restitution of $8,018.85 for the property damage inflicted on the sheriff’s vehicles. Although the defendant did not object to the restitution order during sentencing, he later contested it in a motion, asserting that he was acquitted of the charge forming the basis of the restitution. The court denied his motion, and he appealed. Continue Reading ›

For decades, certain people convicted of certain drug offenses were unjustly punished more harshly than those found guilty of similar crimes. In an effort to rectify such inequities, the United States government enacted the First Step Act, which among other things, reduces the sentencing disparity between similar drug crimes. The Act applies retroactively, meaning many people convicted of covered drug offenses are eligible to have their sentences reduced. In a recent Florida opinion, the court discussed the Act and what constitutes a qualifying offense for purposes of sentence reduction. If you are charged with a drug crime, it is smart to meet with a Tampa drug crime defense attorney to examine your potential defenses as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant moved for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act. The court denied his motion, and he appealed. He then filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied as well. He filed a second appeal; in response, the government moved for summary affirmance.

Sentence Reductions Under the First Step Act

The court ultimately granted the government’s motion. It noted that summary disposition is appropriate in cases where one party’s position is clearly correct as a matter of law. The court generally reviews de novo whether the district court had the authority to modify a defendant’s sentence under the First Step Act, but the denial of a motion for reconsideration is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Continue Reading ›

During a criminal trial, the jury or judge will typically assess whether the evidence, when assessed in conjunction with current statutory and case law, is sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt. If, after a defendant is convicted, it becomes evident that there is new evidence or an intervening change in law, the defendant may be eligible for a new trial. In a recent opinion delivered in a fraud case, a Florida court discussed what evidence is needed to demonstrate that a new trial is warranted. If you are charged with a fraud offense, it is wise to speak to a Tampa fraud defense attorney to determine your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the defendant stood trial for six charges related to a fraud scheme involving clearing vehicle titles of liens from financial institutions and other lienholders. The scheme included false and fraudulent towing and storage liens, false claims of vehicle sales at public auctions, and the submission of fabricated documents to Florida tax collector offices.

Allegedly, after a four-day trial, the jury found the defendant guilty on four of the counts against him, one of which was aggravated identity theft. The jury instruction for this count, which both the defendant and the government proposed and to which the defendant did not object, required the government to prove that the means of identification was possessed “during and in relation to” the crime alleged in the indictment. The defendant subsequently sought a new trial on the aggravated identity theft count. Continue Reading ›

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 Florida law, people can be charged with multiple distinct crimes stemming from a single criminal incident. They cannot be convicted of the same offense more than once, however, as it violates double jeopardy. While in some cases, it is clear that a conviction violates a defendant’s double jeopardy rights, in others, it is less evident. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion in a car theft case in which it discussed the process of determining whether a conviction violates double jeopardy. If you are accused of a theft offense, it is smart to consult a Tampa theft crime defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant agreed to repair a car for his friend and subsequently borrowed tools from his friend’s sister. He drove off with the car and the tools and did not return the car for a week; he never returned the tools. The state charged him with grand theft of a car and theft of tools. He was found guilty of both crimes, after which he appealed.

Determining if a Conviction Violates Double Jeopardy

On appeal, the defendant argued that his convictions violated double jeopardy. The court disagreed and denied his appeal. In doing so, it explained that double jeopardy bars a person from being prosecuted, convicted, or punished for the same crime more than once. In cases of theft convictions where the crimes are merely different degrees of the core offense of theft, multiple convictions arising out of the same core offense violate double jeopardy.

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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, most DUI arrests arise out of traffic stops. While the police are permitted to investigate DUI crimes, they can only do so if they have reasonable suspicion that such crimes are being committed. They do not need to obtain consent from a DUI suspect to conduct field sobriety exercises, though, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the court rejected the defendant’s argument that evidence obtained during his traffic stop should be suppressed. If you are accused of a DUI offense in Tampa, it is wise to speak to a Tampa DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that, during a traffic stop, the officers suspected the defendant of DUI and directed him to perform field sobriety exercises. The defendant complied with their request but later moved to suppress the evidence of his performance on the field sobriety exercises, arguing that his consent was lacking and, therefore, the evidence violated the Fourth Amendment.

Allegedly, during the trial court’s hearing on the defendant’s motion, the court found that although there was reasonable suspicion of DUI, the defendant did not voluntarily consent to the field sobriety exercises. Consequently, the court granted the motion to suppress the evidence. The state appealed. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, people convicted of sex crimes generally are required to register as sex offenders; if they fail to, they may face additional charges. Notably, people can be required to register as sex offenders if they are convicted of sexual offenses that require registration in other states. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes an offense requiring registration in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for failing to register. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is important to meet with a Tampa sex crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with failing to register as a sex offender. The defendant moved for acquittal, but his motion was denied. A jury subsequently found him guilty as charged. The defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to establish that he was required to register as a sex offender.

Crimes Requiring Sex Offender Registration

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that to establish culpability for failing to register as a sex offender, the State was required to demonstrate that the defendant was convicted of a sexual offense that required registration. In order to meet this burden, the State offered evidence at trial that the defendant was found guilty of oral copulation with the use of force in California. Continue Reading ›

Under Florida’s constitution, criminal convictions require a unanimous verdict. This means, in part, that jurors must be in complete agreement that the prosecution has established each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is ambiguity regarding the unanimity of a verdict, a defendant may be able to argue that it should be vacated. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence a defendant must offer to prove a verdict was not unanimous in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for resisting an officer. If you are charged with a crime in Tampa, it is wise to speak to a Tampa criminal defense attorney to determine your potential defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was involved in an altercation at a bar, after which he spoke with police officers. He was taken to a hospital; when police arrived at the hospital, they found that the defendant had absconded. An officer found him lying on the ground down the road. The defendant and officer’s accounts of what transpired vary, but the defendant was ultimately charged with two counts of resisting an officer without violence. A jury found him guilty of both charges, and he was sentenced to one year for each count. He then appealed.