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Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer > Blog > Probation Violation > Florida Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison After Committing Murder While on Probation

Florida Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison After Committing Murder While on Probation


One of the ironclad conditions of probation is that you cannot commit another criminal offense while still serving probation for a prior conviction. This includes crimes committed under another jurisdiction. For example, if you are on probation for a federal crime and commit a new offense under Florida state law, the federal court can send you back to prison for the original federal conviction. And in some cases, the court can even impose a much harsher federal sentence in light of the new state crime.

At the same time, a defendant still has certain procedural rights the courts must respect, no matter how egregious the offenses involved. An ongoing federal criminal case from here in Florida, United States v. Steiger, provides a case in point. In this case, a federal defendant pleaded guilty to wire fraud. A federal judge decided not to send the defendant to prison, but instead sentenced him to three years probation.

Just two months into that probation, however, the defendant committed a new crime under Florida law. To be more specific, he committed second-degree murder. Florida prosecutors charged the defendant with killing the mother of his one-year-old child. A state jury convicted found the defendant guilty.

This prompted the federal court that previously sentenced the defendant for wire fraud to revoke his federal probation. Unlike a criminal trial, in a hearing to revoke federal probation the government need only prove the defendant committed a new crime based on a “preponderance of the evidence” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Here, the federal court found the defendant committed murder while on probation. He then imposed a new sentence for the original wire fraud convictions.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the defendant would normally have received a sentence of between 12 and 18 months. But the judge decided to impose the maximum sentence allowed under the wire fraud statute–which was 20 years.

Before the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the defendant challenged the 20-year sentence on various grounds. One issue was that the trial judge never expressly gave a reason for the 20-year sentence, which was a substantial upward departure from the sentencing guidelines. The 11th Circuit rejected that argument, stating the record clearly showed the trial court’s reason was that the defendant committed a brutal murder while on probation. But the Court remanded the case to a smaller panel to address several other challenges the defendant raised with respect to the length of the sentence.

Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today

Probation does not mean you are free to go. It means that you can stay out of prison so long as you strictly comply with the terms imposed by the court. Even a seemingly minor violation or offense can land you back in prison for decades. So if you need legal advice or representation from an experienced Orlando probation violation lawyer, call the Joshi Law Firm, PA, today at 844-GO-JOSHI or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.



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