Articles Posted in Plea Deals

While every suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty, in some cases it makes sense for a person charged with a sex crime to enter into a plea agreement or to plead guilty and allow the court to assess a penalty based on that plea. Even if a defendant concedes guilt to a crime, however, the law still affords the defendant the right to a fair and appropriate sentence for the offense charged.

Recently, in a case arising out of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the court vacated a sentence for a defendant who entered an open plea for the charge of lewd and lascivious behavior, due to an error on the sentencing scoresheet. If you are charged with a sex crime in Clearwater, you should retain a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss which plea option is in your best interest.

Defendant’s Plea and Subsequent Sentencing

Reportedly, the defendant entered an open plea to lewd or lascivious battery, burglary, and grand theft. In Florida, an open plea is essentially a guilty plea without an agreement with the state regarding sentencing. Rather, an open plea allows the judge to determine the appropriate sentence for the crimes charged.

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If you are convicted of a crime in Florida, the state has many different options regarding punishment for that crime. For example, states can force people to pay restitution or fines, and give people probation or jail time. However, there are laws around the kind of sentence someone gets. These laws include principles based on the Constitution, like fundamental fairness. In a case recently heard by the Second District Court of Appeals in Florida, a sentence given to a defendant was found to violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s requirement of fairness. This case helps to illustrate why it is so important to contact a knowledgeable Clearwater criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime.

Plea Bargains

The vast majority of defendants who are charged with a crime will end up pleading guilty. Prosecutors will frequently offer a reduced sentence to defendants who are willing to plead guilty to some or all of the charges against them. However, just because a defendant agrees to the guilty plea does not mean that it relieves the state from having to follow the laws around sentencing. In other words, if the sentence violates the Constitution, it is illegal whether or not the defendant agreed to it.

Plea deals can be a very effective way to resolve a criminal case and limit the potential consequences of a conviction for a sex crime or other crime. That said, it’s important for a person considering a plea to fully understand what he or she is agreeing to do, the rights he or she is giving up, and the benefit (if any) he or she is getting in return. As a recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida shows, you usually can’t take the agreement back once you sign it.A defendant was arrested and charged with production of child pornography after police found that he was allegedly exchanging pornographic material with another person via email. The cops found the emails after arresting another man on similar charges in Tennessee. FBI agents and police officers obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home in Jacksonville, where they seized a laptop computer and thumb drive. They later found some 650 child pornography images on the computer and thumb drive.

When law enforcement officers talked to the defendant at his work, he admitted to controlling the email account that the cops had found was sending and receiving child pornography, according to the court. He told the cops that he had used his iPhone to capture some of the images while babysitting a nine-year-old child.

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