Is Attempted Robbery a “Crime of Violence” in Florida?
If you have a prior criminal record in Florida, that can lead to harsher penalties if you are convicted of a subsequent offense. For example, the sentencing guidelines used by federal courts classify a defendant as a “career offender” subject to a higher base sentencing level if they are convicted of a “crime of violence” or a drug offense and have at least two prior felony convictions for similar crimes. A “crime of violence,” is an offense under any federal or state law punishable by at least 1 year in prison that is either specifically listed in the guidelines or required as an element for conviction for “use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force” against another person.
Federal Court Orders Re-Sentencing of Florida Man Following Supreme Court Decision
In 2022, the United States Supreme Court clarified that attempted robbery was not a “crime of violence” under federal law. The case before the Court, United States v. Taylor, involved a Virginia defendant accused of violating the Hobbs Act, the federal statute governing robbery involving interstate commerce. Specifically, prosecutors alleged the defendant participated in an attempted bank robbery gone wrong where an accomplice shot and killed a man. Prosecutors sought enhanced “crime of violence” penalties against the defendant.
The Supreme Court said, however, that attempted robbery under the Hobbs Act was not a “crime of violence” as conviction did not require the government to prove the defendant “used, attempted to use, or threatened to use force.” Indeed, the Hobbs Act only required proof that the defendant completed a “substantial step” towards the robbery.
More recently, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals applied the Taylor decision to reverse a 10-year prison sentence imposed on a Florida defendant convicted of bank robbery. The trial court calculated the defendant’s sentence after applying the “career offender” guideline, which partially relied on a previous conviction in Florida state court for attempted strong arm robbery. In prior cases, the 11th Circuit held this was a “crime of violence.” But those decisions were now overruled by Taylor.
The 11th Circuit explained that attempted strong arm robbery under Florida law required proof that the defendant formed the intent to take someone else’s money or property and completed at least one “overt act” towards accomplishing that goal. Neither of these things required the defendant to use force or attempt to use force. (The Court clarified that a successful robbery required the use or threat of force, just not an attempted robbery.) As such, the defendant in this case was entitled to a new sentencing hearing where he would not be treated as a “career offender.”
Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today
There are a number of details that can significantly affect the outcome of a Florida criminal prosecution. An experienced Orlando robbery lawyer can advise and represent you if you are facing potential felony charges. As the case above illustrates, a conviction can have serious consequences, especially if you have a prior record. So if you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible, contact the Joshi Law Firm, P.A., today to schedule a free consultation.