Tuttle v. State
Depending on which crime an individual is charged with determines the severity of penalties someone may face if ultimately convicted. As we have discussed in other posts, the prosecutor’s decision on which charge to file matters.
In Tuttle v. State, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals reviews a case in which the double jeopardy rule applies, and the definition of “lesser offense” is disputed.
Timothy Tuttle, Jr., was charged with second-degree murder, as well as armed burglary and attempted home invasion; this is a result of a fatal incident involving Tuttle and an accomplice. Masked and armed with guns, Tuttle and his colleague broke into a home in Florida and demanded money and drugs. After looting the house, Eric Stuebinger was shot and the men fled; Stuebinger later died from the gunshot wound. The victim’s girlfriend was able to positively identify Tuttle in trial, and the jury reached a verdict of guilty on the charges of manslaughter with a firearm, armed burglary, and attempted home invasion robbery.
Both the State and Tuttle agreed on the fact that he cannot be found guilty on both the armed burglary as well as the attempted home invasion robbery, because it went against the double jeopardy rule; this basically states an individual cannot be charged twice for the same crime. Florida statutes 775.021 states that a person charged with a crime may not be charged with the same offense twice in the same indictment or information. The State and Tuttle disagreed on which of the two convictions should be dropped; the conviction deemed to be the “lesser offense” would have to be dropped. The trial judge agreed with the state on dropping the attempted home invasion robbery charge, because it carried a lesser prison sentence than the other alternative, armed burglary.
The Second District Court disagreed with the trial court’s decision during appeal. Quoting the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Pizzo v. State, “Lesser offenses are those in which the elements of the lesser offense are always subsumed within the greater, without regard to the charging document or evidence at trial..”. Basically, this instructs the courts to focus on the statutory elements of the case, the specific points that need to be proved for a conviction a trial, when determining the lesser offense, rather than basing it solely on prison penalties.
Double jeopardy, when correctly implemented by an experienced criminal attorney, is another potential factor to utilize at trial for those charged with crimes in the State of Florida. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense law firm Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. handles a wide array of high profile, and high stakes criminal cases throughout the State. We provide a strategic criminal defense to those accused of State and Federal crimes.