2DCA: Directed verdict – reasonable hypothesis of innocence

Where the state presents evidence to rebut a defendant’s reasonable hypothesis of innocence regarding a charge of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, the trial court errs by entering directed verdict in favor of the defendant.

State v. Campbell, 2D13-2711 (Fla. 2d DCA Jan. 21, 2015)
Hillsborough Judge Fernandez

2DCA: Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

The State charged Jose Figueroa with failing to register as a sexual offender pursuant to section 943.0435(4)(a), Florida Statutes (2010), and a jury convicted him of that crime. However, this subsection applies only to an offender who changes his residence within the State of Florida, not to an offender who moves to another jurisdiction. Reversed.
Figueroa v. State, 2D13-1357 (Fla. 2d DCA Jan. 21, 2015)
Hillsborough Judge Cook

3DCA: VOP for Applying for DL After Agreeing to Lifetime Revocation

As part of his probation, the defendant agreed to a lifetime revocation of his drivers license and was ordered never to apply for a DL again….which he nonetheless applies for.  The primary issue at the probation violation hearing was whether the defendant, who speaks Spanish and possesses a limited understanding of the English language, was properly advised that, as a special condition of his probation, he had a lifetime driver’s license revocation and that he was never to apply for a driver’s license.  The Third District affirmed and held:
  • REJECTION OF PLEA DEAL:  The trial court did not err by rejecting a plea offer regarding the VOP where the transcripts reflect that the trial court properly considered the defendant’s prior convictions, the charges, the facts leading to those charges, the fact that the lifetime DL revocation was an important part of the defendant’s original plea deal, and the short period of time between the plea and the violation.
  • SUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE:  The evidence was sufficient to support the violation because the transcripts of the original plea colloquy revealed that the defendant was aided by an interpretter and acknowledged that he understood the special condition.
  • LEGALITY OF SENTENCE:  The trial court did not impose an illegal 15 year sentence because the sentence is not a true “split sentence” but rather a “probationary split sentence”.
Gonzalez v. State, 3D13-1872 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 21, 2015)
Miami-Dade Judge Brennan

3DCA: Leaving Scene of Accident Causing Death

Affirming conviction for leaving the scene of an accident causing death and tampering with evidence, the Third District held:

  • STATEMENTS OF DEFENDANT:  While the defendant was seized within the meanign of the 4th Amendment when he was handcuffed, placed in back of officer’s car, taken to police station, and placed in locked interrogation room, the seizure was nonetheless supported by probable cause.
  • PROBABLE CAUSE:  Where an LEO determined that a pickup truck parked in front of auto body shop was the vehicle that had been involved in an accident, and the LEO learned from owner of shop that the defendant owned the truck and that defendant had been in possession of truck when it was damaged, there was probable cause to arrest the defendant.
  • MIRANDA:  The trial court did not err by denying a motion to suppress statements made by defendant during an interrogation at the police station after he waived his Miranda rights.
  • OPINION TESTIMONY:  The trial court did not fundamentally err by permitting a detective to testify whether the defendant knew, or should have known, that the defendant struck a person with his vehicle where the detective testified as an accident reconstruction expert. 
Abraham v. State, 3D13-755 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 21, 2015)
Miami-Dade Judge Rebull

1DCA: Newly Discovered Evidence

Where a co-defendant’s letter written after the defendant’s trial indicates that the defendant did not have advance knowledge of a robbery, a trial court errs by failing to make a factual determination of whether the letter constitutes newly discovered evidence.  (And strongly hints that if it DOES constitute newly discovered evidence, the defendant might be entitled to a new trial.)

Stills v. State, 1D13-5310
Duval Judge Stetson

1DCA: Aggravated Assault w/ Firearm & Burglary with Assault w/ Firearm

Where all of the elements of the crime of aggravated assault with a firearm are contained within the crime of burglary with an assault while armed with a firearm, convictions for both the burglary and the aggravated assault violate the prohibition against double jeopardy.

Smith v. State, 1D13-4394 (Fla. 1st DCA Jan. 20, 2015)
Duval Judge Daniels