Florida’s criminal defense and criminal appeals attorneys who handle a lot a traffic offenses will be happy to know that the Florida Supreme Court has reversed the Third DCA in Gil v. State, SC11-1983, on an issue that occurs all too often. I’m sure you’ve seen it before: just as in Gil, your client gets stopped for one reason or another, and during the stop, the officer determines that your client has been driving on a suspended license. As in Gil, your client will probably be charged with misdemeanor DWLS, under section 322.34(2). And if your client really lucky, he or she might also be charged as an Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) under section 322.34(5). Is that proper? Not anymore. According to the Supreme Court in Gil, because DWLS under section 322.34(2) is a degree variant of HTO under section 322.34(5), the State Attorney can no longer charge your client with offenses under both sections–assuming, of course, that the offenses both arise from the same incident.
Florida’s 5th DCA recently released its opinion in Casey Marie Anthony v. State, No. 5D11-2357. In the criminal appeal, the Court reversed two of Anthony’s four misdemeanor convictions for providing false information to police officers, finding that the convictions for all four violate double jeopardy. See Anthony, slip op., pgs. 11-15. However, the Court also affirmed the trial court’s denial of Anthony’s motion to suppress the statements made to law enforcement during the investigation, finding that no Miranda warnings were required because Anthony was not in custody for purposes of Miranda. See Anthony, slip op. pgs. 8-11. If you happen to have any cases involving Miranda or double jeopardy issues, you should take a few minutes to read the 15 page opinion.
This is a good win for the criminal appeals team. While the reversal will no doubt be of some help to Anthony, it’s unfortunate that the opinion has gotten little to no press coverage. So in the end, how does the reversal really help Anthony, practically speaking? Unless you live under a rock, you know that the press skewered Anthony during the pre-trial and trial proceedings. But now that the trial is over, who is there to announce the good news that two of her four misdemeanor convictions were reversed? Nobody.
Regardless of your opinion of the verdict, there is little dispute that Anthony’s case is just the latest example of what is wrong with today’s press coverage of criminal cases. Now that Anthony has had her day in court, what does she have to show for it? A bankruptcy petition.
Well, by now you have all probably heard that Casey Anthony was sentenced to 1 year incarceration for each count of lying to a police officer, consecutive, which means she was sentenced to a total of 4 years. (The Court also imposed a $1,000 fine and court costs for each count, and the prosecutor stated that the State would be seeking to recover the costs of investigation and prosecution of the case). According to a CNN report, after adding up all the jail credits, it appears that Anthony will be released on July 13, 2011. Even though Anthony’s defense attorneys mentioned the possibility of an appeal of the sentence based on the double jeopardy issue which was raised at the televised hearing, I would be surprised if any appeal will be filed now. If Anthony is going to be released in a week, why waste time with an appeal?
The Court will consider the State’s motion to recover the costs of investigation and prosecution at a later date. Meanwhile, a company named Texas Equusearch is seeking to recover the $112,000 it spent trying to locate Caylee, and Zenaida Gonzalez, otherwise known as “Zanny the Nanny,” has apparently filed an action for defamation against Anthony based on Anthony’s false statements that she left Caylee in her care. Ms. Gonzalez denies ever meeting Anthony. No reports yet on whether the State of Florida will try to pursue perjury charges against Casey Anthony’s mother. Under Florida Statute section 837.02, making a false statement under oath in an official proceeding constitutes either a second or third degree felony. In my personal experience, perjury charges are not often pursued because they are difficult to prove.
Note: In my previous Casey Anthony post, I referred to the felony offenses of providing false information to a police officer under Florida statute section 837.05(2). However, it turns out that in Counts IV through VII, Anthony was only convicted of the misdemeanor offenses under Florida Statute section 837.05(1) which carry the lighter maximum penalty of up to 1 year incarceration.