Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order summarily denying Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Defendant was not entitled to Hurst relief, nor was he entitled to relief on his other claims. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder. The jury recommended a death sentence by a vote of ten to two. The trial judge imposed a sentence of death. In his successive motion for postconviction relief, Appellant raised four claims based on Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Appellant’s sentence became final prior to Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), Appellant was not entitled to Hurst relief; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to relief on his other claims. View "Jones v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in this criminal case, holding that the State was not entitled to the speedy trial rule’s recapture period in Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.191, where the State informed Defendant that it had terminated its prosecutorial efforts and failed to notify Defendant that new and different charges based on the same conduct were filed before the speedy trial period expired. The State charged Defendant with tampering with a witness and later dismissed the charges. After the speedy trial period expired, Defendant became aware of new charges based on the same conduct. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for discharge without allowing the State the opportunity to try Defendant within the recapture period. The Fourth District reversed, receding from its prior decisions requiring that the defendant be notified of the charges within the speedy trial period. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that, under the circumstances in this case, the trial court correctly denied the State the recapture period and discharged Defendant. View "Born-Suniaga v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order summarily denying Appellant’s third successive motion to vacate a sentence of death under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief as a matter of law. Appellant was convicted of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence on appeal. At issue in this appeal was the summary denial of Appellant’s third successive motion for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, as a matter of law, Appellant was not entitled to relief, as the Court had previously addressed and rejected each of the claims presented, and Appellant did not provide a compelling argument for the Court to reconsider its previous rulings. View "Zack v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and other offenses. The jury unanimously recommended a sentence of death by a vote of twelve to zero. Appellant later filed a successive postconviction motion to vacate his death sentence in light of hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016) and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The postconviction court denied relief relief after an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any Hurst error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (2) Appellant’s remaining claims were similarly without merit. View "Anderson v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s orders summarily denying Appellant’s fifth and sixth successive motions for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, the postconviction court's order denying Appellant’s motion to amend his sixth successive postconviction motion, and the postconviction court's order denying Appellant’s motion to correct illegal sentence filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.800(a), holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims. Appellant was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Pending before the Supreme Court were Appellant’s challenges to the summary denials of his fifth and sixth successive postcondition motions and the denials of his motion to correct illegal sentence and motion to amend. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s orders, holding that Appellant’s arguments on appeal were unavailing. View "Jimenez v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying Appellant’s successive motion for postconviction relief, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief on his claims. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death following a jury’s recommendation for death by a vote of eleven to one. The death sentence became final in 1988. Appellant later filed a motion pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851 seeking relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). The motion was denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Hurst did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentence of death; and (2) Appellant was not denied due process by the substitution of judges on his case between the denial of his motion for postconviction relief and his motion for rehearing. View "Jennings v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversing the trial court’s decision imposing consecutive sentences and remanding to the trial court for consideration of whether, in the court’s discretion, it wished for Defendant to serve his sentences concurrently or consecutively, holding that consecutive sentences in this case were impermissible. Defendant was convicted of kidnapping with a firearm, aggravated battery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Defendant was determined to be a habitual felony offender, and the trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. The First District affirmed the consecutive sentences. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision and remanded for reconsideration in light of Walton v. State, 106 So. 3 522 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013), and Williams v. State, 186 So. 3d 989 (Fla. 2016). On remand, the First District determined that the Supreme Court did not explicitly discuss a case factually similar to this one and that either concurrent or consecutive sentences were permissible. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Fla. Stat. 775.087(2)(d) neither mandates nor permits consecutive sentences for crimes stemming from a single criminal episode involving a single victim in which the gun was not discharged. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reaffirmed the denial of Defendant’s intellectual disability (ID) claim, holding that Moore v. Texas, 137 S. Ct. 1039 (2017), did not compel a different result. In Wright v. State, 213 So. 3d 881 (Fla. 2017) (Wright), the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s ID claim. Thereafter, the United States Supreme Court issued Moore. In the instant case, the United States Supreme Court vacated the Supreme Court’s decision in Wright and remanded to allow the Court to reconsider Wright. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the denial of the ID claim, holding that the intelligence prong and the adaptive functioning prong of the ID test did not require reversal of Defendant’s ID claim. View "Wright v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The circuit court denied Zakrzewski’s motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851, seeking relief pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Hurst v. Florida. The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the denial of relief, concluding that its prior denial of Zakrzewski’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus raising similar claims is a procedural bar to the claims at issue. All of Zakrzewski’s claims depend upon the retroactive application of Hurst, to which the court has held he is not entitled. View "Zakrzewski v. Florida" on Justia Law

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Lynch pled guilty to two counts of first-degree premeditated murder, one count of armed burglary of a dwelling, and one count of kidnapping, all stemming from the 1999 deaths of Morgan and her 13-year-old daughter. Lynch’s counsel recommended that he waive a penalty phase jury because a jury would be more emotional and unsympathetic to mitigation presented for the murder of a child than a seasoned trial judge. Lynch waived his right to a penalty phase jury. The court sentenced Lynch to death. The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Lynch’s petition for certiorari. The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the denial of Lynch’s initial motion for postconviction relief and denied his petition for habeas corpus. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of Lynch’s petition for federal habeas relief and, in 2016, the Supreme Court denied Lynch’s petition for certiorari to the Eleventh Circuit. Lynch filed a successive motion for postconviction relief, citing Hurst v. State. The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the denial of relief. Lynch is not entitled to Hurst relief in light of his valid waiver of a penalty phase jury. Lynch argued, that the test for prejudice under the Strickland standard for ineffective assistance has changed post-Hurst. The court stated that trial counsel is not required to anticipate changes in the law in order to provide effective legal representation. View "Lynch v. Florida" on Justia Law