Florida Defendant Appeals Police Chase Conviction

The defendant in this case was allegedly driving a vehicle when the police attempted to pull him over. There was also a passenger in the car. According to the police, the car sped off when the officer tried to approach it. The driver was speeding at up to 90 miles an hour and committed many traffic infractions, including running red lights and stop signs. Another officer testified that he saw someone jump out of the driver side of the car and go into a house.

The officers followed the suspect into the house and the defendant later emerged from the room sweaty and out of breath. The home belonged to the defendant’s mother, though she testified that he was at home with her all evening. The passenger in the car also testified that the vehicle was not being driven by the defendant but was instead being driven by the passenger’s cousin. Nonetheless, the defendant was convicted of high speed or wanton fleeing and resisting an officer without violence. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.

The defendant argues on appeal that his counsel was ineffective. His argument centers on the failure of his attorney in objecting to the prosecutor’s impeachment of defendant’s witness. Specifically, during the trial, the prosecutor questioned the passenger about his pending charges. These charges included robbery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a firearm, and grand theft.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

In order for a defendant to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, they need to prove that there was a reasonable probability that the outcome would have been different had they had proper representation. The state and the court agree that the questioning by the prosecutor was improper, and that there was no reason for the defense attorney to allow the questioning to continue without objecting. However, the appeals court here held that the defendant did not prove that the outcome would have been different had his attorney objected to the questioning.

The court in this case explained that there was ample evidence to support the guilty verdict. They pointed out that there were three police officers who identified the defendant. There was also dashboard camera footage from a police car that directly refuted the defendant’s mother’s testimony. Thus, the defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel argument fails.

The defendant also argues that his ten-year sentence was improper. He alleged that the court violated his due process rights by sentencing him to a much harsher sentence than they sentenced other defendants to in similar cases. However, the court in this case acknowledged that they sentenced other defendants to less time for similar crimes. However, they explained that they gave this defendant a harsher sentence due to the extremely high rate of speed and the fact that the chase was taking place in a residential neighborhood and near daycare facilities. The court also noted that the defendant did show up in court and his record had only non-violent felonies in the past, but the court did not feel that that was enough to warrant a lesser sentence. Thus, the conviction and sentence was upheld.

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As this case shows, it is incredibly important to have an experienced and skilled attorney on your side. The St. Petersburg sex crimes defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm defend clients charged with sex crimes or other crimes. Contact us online or call our offices at (727) 897-5413 to speak with our skilled attorneys about your case.

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