In all criminal cases, the State bears the burden of producing evidence that the defendant committed the crime for which he or she is charged. If the State does not produce adequate evidence of a crime, the defendant should not be convicted. If a defendant is convicted despite insufficient evidence of a crime, as a general rule, he or she can only appeal if he or she objected to the sufficiency of evidence during the trial. An exception to this rule occurs when there is no evidence that the defendant committed a crime, however.
This was demonstrated in a case decided by a Florida court, where the court overturned a conviction for possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking, due to the State’s lack of evidence of the crime. If you live in Sarasota and are currently facing criminal charges, you should consult a trusted Sarasota crime defense attorney to develop a strategy for your defense.
Alleged Facts Regarding the Crime Committed
Allegedly, a detective was at a package distribution center when a package was brought to his attention. The package was addressed to the defendant, who did not live at the address to which the package was sent. The package was delivered to a house located at the address listed on the package. Shortly thereafter, the defendant pulled up to the house in a car and went into the house. He left the house with the package a few minutes later and got into his car and drove away. The police then arrested the defendant. The defendant was charged with cocaine trafficking, possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted on all charges. The defendant appealed the possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking conviction.
Elements of the Crime of Possession of a Conveyance for Trafficking
Under Florida law, it is illegal to possess a conveyance, also known as a vehicle, to be used for trafficking. To convict a defendant of possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking the State must produce sufficient evidence to show a connection between the use of the vehicle and the crime. In other words, the possession of a controlled substance in a car is insufficient in and of itself to prove a defendant is guilty of possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking.
Here, the court found that the only evidence the State produced regarding the vehicle in question was that the defendant was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged crime. The court noted that the State failed to produce any evidence that the vehicle was a necessary component of the alleged drug trafficking. Thus, the court held that the evidence was inadequate to support a conviction for possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking.
The court noted that the defendant did not object to the sufficiency of the evidence presented at trial regarding the possession of a conveyance charge, and therefore did not preserve the issue for appeal. Regardless, the court stated that where there is insufficient evidence to show a defendant committed any crime, the failure to object will not result in a waiver of the right to pursue the issue on appeal. The court held the defendant’s conviction for possession of a conveyance was based on a fundamental error and therefore overturned the conviction.
Meet with a Seasoned Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Case
If you live in Sarasota and are facing criminal charges, it is important to retain a seasoned criminal defense attorney who will work diligently to help you retain your freedom. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a skilled Sarasota criminal defense attorney who will help you develop strong arguments that will assist you in pursuing a favorable legal outcome under the facts of your case. Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 727-897-5413 or via the online form to set up a free and confidential meeting.