Last week, the Florida Supreme Court clarified a case we’ve written about extensively and which might offer relief for some of our members. Two years ago, the court ruled you could not get “dual convictions” for effectively the same course of conduct. Last week the court clarified how to determine whether it’s the same course of conduct.
In 2015, in State v. Shelley, 176 So. 3d 914 (Fla. 2015), the Florida Supreme Court held that “dual convictions for solicitation and traveling after solicitation based upon the same conduct” violate double jeopardy.
Since then, however, certain appellate courts have found that if you chat about traveling on one day and then actually travel on another, these are separate conducts and you can be charged with two crimes. A disparity existed between the 1st District Court of Appeal and the Second and Fifth Districts, so the Florida Supreme Court stepped in to create the final rule.
In Lee v. Florida, Lee had placed a Craigslist ad looking for a casual encounter with a male under 25. An undercover officer responded, claiming to be only 14. Lee took the bait and a series of chats ensued over the next couple of weeks, culminating with Lee traveling to meet the “minor” on the 12th day. He was convicted of three crimes; one count of traveling to meet a minor to engage in sexual conduct,
one count of unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a felony, and one count of using a computer to facilitate or solicit the sexual conduct of a child.
He argued, as per Shelley, that because these were all part and parcel of the same criminal act, he can’t be charged with three different crimes. The state argued, that because he traveled on January 2nd but engaged in the chats on various times between December 22nd and January 1st, they are three separate crimes.
The Supreme Court put the argument to rest by ruling that “dual convictions for solicitation and traveling after solicitation that are “based upon the same conduct” violate double jeopardy. Likewise, multiple convictions of solicitation, unlawful use of a two-way communications device, and traveling after solicitation based upon the same conduct violate double jeopardy.”
They vacated Lee’s solicitation and unlawful use of a two-way communications device be vacated.
If you have a case similar to Lee’s, in which you were convicted of multiple crimes arising from the same course of conduct, you might want to consult with your criminal defense attorney to see if you are eligible for relief.
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