The Speedy Trial Act in Florida Criminal Cases

In Florida, people charged with crimes have numerous rights. For example, they have the right to be tried for their alleged crimes within a reasonable time; if they are not, they may be able to assert that the State violated their right to a speedy trial, and, therefore, the charges against them should be dismissed. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a case in which the defendant was charged with identity theft, the court discussed what a defendant making a speedy trial argument must prove to prevail. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is wise to speak with a Tampa theft crime defense attorney about your rights as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with identity theft and wire fraud. During his trial, the government alleged that the defendant, who was an attorney, obtained litigation advances from financing companies in the names of his clients without their knowledge and used the fraudulently obtained funds to pay his law firm’s expenses. The jury convicted the defendant of the charged offenses. He subsequently appealed on several grounds, including a violation of the Speedy Trial Act, insufficient evidence to support his convictions and an error in the jury instruction regarding deliberate ignorance.

The Speedy Trial Act

The Speedy Trial Act mandates that a defendant’s trial should start within seventy days from the indictment’s filing or the defendant’s initial appearance, whichever is later.

Regarding the Speedy Trial Act, the defendant contended on appeal that the time between filing a motion and the conclusion of the related hearing should not be excluded from the speedy trial calculation. However, the court noted that such time is, in fact, excludable under the Act. In the defendant’s case, the district court deferred ruling on their motion until a pretrial conference, and this time was properly excluded from the speedy trial calculation, thereby dismissing the defendant’s Speedy Trial Act violation claim.

The defendant also argued that there was insufficient evidence to support their convictions. The court disagreed, finding that the evidence presented by the government was substantial and overwhelming. Testimony from former employees and representatives of financing companies, along with business records and client statements, established the defendant’s central role in the fraudulent scheme.

Lastly, the defendant contended that the district court erred by omitting part of the instruction on deliberate ignorance. While the court acknowledged this error, it determined it to be harmless. The court emphasized that there was an abundance of evidence demonstrating the defendant’s actual knowledge of the fraud, and the jury had been instructed that they could convict based on this knowledge. Therefore, the omission in the instruction did not affect the defendant’s substantial rights, and the court affirmed their convictions.

Meet with a Skilled Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

People charged with theft crimes often fear that their conviction is inevitable, but there are numerous phases between charges and a conviction, and prosecutorial missteps often result in the charges being dismissed. If you are charged with a theft offense, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney. The skilled Tampa criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law are proficient at helping people charged with crimes protect their interests, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law by using the form online or by calling us at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.

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