Florida Third District Court of Appeal – Criminal Headnotes – May 17, 2017
JERRY WEAVER V. STATE OF FLORIDA – DOUBLE JEOPARDY BARS CONVICTION FOR MULTIPLE FELONIES ARISING FROM CONTINUOUS SERIES OF EVENTS – NO ERROR IN DENIAL OF MOTION TO LIMIT TESTIMONY OF STATE’S EXPERT – PROSECUTOR’S IMPROPER STATEMENTS IN CLOSING ARGUMENT HARMLESS
The trial court properly granted the defendant’s motion to vacate judgments on two of three felony counts of child abuse on double jeopardy grounds, as these arose from “a single criminal episode, occurring in a continuous, uninterrupted sequence.” The trial court did not err in denying a defense motion in limine to limit the testimony of the state’s expert. Any impropriety in the prosecutor’s closing argument was harmless.
TROY SINGLETON V. STATE OF FLORIDA – WHERE SENTENCE NOT ILLEGAL, APPEAL FROM DENIAL OF MOTION TO CORRECT TREATED AS HABEAS PETITION – NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT DEFENDANT’S CLAIM TRIAL COURT MISTAKENLY BELIEVED IT HAD NO DISCRETION TO IMPOSE LESSER SENTENCE
Where the challenged sentence — thirty years as a habitual felony offender — was within the range of punishments the trial court could properly impose, an appeal from the denial of a motion to correct an illegal sentence will be treated as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The record does not support the claim that the trial court mistakenly believed it did not have discretion to impose sentence below the statutory maximum. Petition denied.
TRAVIS WHITE V. DANIEL JUNIOR, ET AL. – PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS – DIRECT CRIMINAL CONTEMPT REQUIREMENTS
The trial court in a child custody dispute ordered the petitioner to submit to a drug test and return to the courtroom. The petitioner left the courtroom and did not submit to a drug test or return. The trial court issued an order requiring the petitioner to appear two days later to show cause why he should not be held in direct criminal contempt. At the hearing, the trial court appointed counsel to represent the petitioner, but denied counsel’s request for additional time to investigate and prepare a defense, instead proceeding immediately to the hearing and sentencing the petitioner to seven days’ jail time. Citing Plank v. State, 190 So. 3d 594 (Fla. 2016), the appeals court ruled the trial court had erred in treating this as direct criminal contempt, vacated the judgment and sentence, and remanded for further proceedings, “if appropriate” for indirect criminal contempt, noting the petitioner had already spent two days in jail before the appeals court granted a temporary stay pending the habeas proceeding.