Tampa Criminal Appeals Attorney
At the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., we represent individuals pursuing a direct criminal appeal in Florida. Direct appeals typically occur after a trial or a violation of probation hearing in both misdemeanor and felony cases. If you or a loved one needs an attorney for a direct criminal appeal, contact the Sammis Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss the case. We handle direct criminal appeals throughout the State of Florida, including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, Manatee County, and Sarasota County.
Recent Case Result from March 25, 2011 - Felony Conviction Reversed:
We were retained to represent a woman who had been convicted of a third degree felony after a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Pinellas County before the Honorable Philip J. Federico, Judge. The Second District Court of Appeals reversed the conviction. On appeal the Court found that the trial court should have granted the woman's motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. The case was reversed with instructions that she be forever discharged of any criminal wrongdoing.
The case involved an accusation of improper towing by an attorney, Peter Donnantuoni, who parked his leased BMW at a nearby condominium complex where he was not a resident while he attended a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game. The condo resident called our client's towing company who towed the vehicle. The attorney called the police to report that the vehicle had been improperly towed, and that the owner and operator of the towing company refused to release it to him that evening. In a premier prosecution under Section 715.07(2)(a)(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2008), the owner of the towing company was charged with a felony offense. She was convicted of that charge after a one day jury trial.
The Second District Court of Appeals found that the trial court committed reversible error when it denied the woman's motion for judgment of acquittal. The trial court failed to recognize that the State did not charge that Mrs. Franzone was individually responsible for the criminal acts (if any) of the LLC. And the State's evidence failed to demonstrate that Mrs. Franzone was personally provided with any statutorily referenced request by Peter Donnantuoni to redeem his vehicle. Read the entire opinion here - 2D09-4085 / Franzone v. State.
· Information on Direct Criminal Appeals
· Examples of Issues that are Commonly Raised on Appeal
· Appellate Bond or Bond Pending Appeal
· Motion to Reduce Sentence
· Motion to Withdraw Your Plea
· Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence
· Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence
Information on Direct Criminal Appeals
An appeal is a request for relief from an appellate court. An appeal from state court is first heard by one of the Florida District Court of Appeals. An appeal from a federal court is first heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. If you hire an attorney to appeal your case, a notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days in state court, or 10 days in federal court. After the notice of appeal is filed, the clerk of court prepares a record on appeal, which includes all of the motions, pleadings and transcripts of your case. You are hiring a lawyer to carefully review every aspect of your case, including challenges to rulings on pretrial motions, ruling at trial, whether the evidence at trial was sufficient, and challenges to the judgment and sentence imposed by the court. Once the first rounds of appeals (called direct appeals) are over you may be able to pursue “post-conviction” proceedings.
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Examples of Issues that are Commonly Raised on Appeal:
- The evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to allow a finding of guilt.
- The trial court made an incorrect ruling on a pre-trial issue, such as a motion to dismiss or a motion to suppress.
- The trial court erroneously failed to excuse a certain jury member who expressed some kind of prejudice against you or the case.
- The trial court erred in the jury instructions that were given to the jury.
- The trial court improperly determined the amount of restitution after arestitution hearing.
- The sentence in your case exceeded the maximum punishment allowed by the legislature, or your sentence was improperly enhanced as a Habitual Felony Offender, or Prison Release Re-offender.
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Appellate Bond or Bond Pending Appeal
While the appeal is being pursued, an experienced attorney can seek a bond pending appeal. In arguing for a bond pending appeal we strive to show the court all of the grounds for the appeal, and that those grounds show errors that are open to debate about which reasonable questions exists on appeal. The first issue for the court to consider is whether there is good faith for the appeal, and whether the issues presented are fairly debatable. An appeal bond will probably not be granted if the trial court determines that the appeal is frivolous. Not all cases are eligible for an appeal bond because certain statutory exclusions exist.
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Motion to Reduce Sentence:
Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(c), you may file a motion asking the trial court to reduce or modify your sentence, but there are very strict guidelines for when such a motion must be filed and heard. The motion to reduce or modify sentence must be filed and heard within 60 days of the sentence being pronounced, and again 60 days after a mandate is returned after your direct appeal.
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Motion to Withdraw Your Plea:
A motion to withdraw your plea may be filed both before and after sentence is pronounced under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 3.170. For a motion to withdraw your plea filed before sentencing, Rule 3.170(f) may allow the defendant to withdraw his plea for any reason, however, the court shall allow the defendant to withdraw his plea if the defendant can show “good cause” for the request.
For a motion to withdraw your plea after sentencing, the motion must be filed within 30 days of sentencing. The legal standard for a motion to withdraw your plea after sentencing is that you must show that a “manifest injustice” has occurred. It is obviously harder to withdraw a plea after sentencing than before.
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Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence:
If the thirty days for filing a Rule 3.170 motion have lapsed, you may still file a motion to vacate the judgment and sentence under Rule 3.850. A defendant has two years from when his sentence becomes "final" in which to file a motion. Typically, that means you have two years plus thirty days to file if no appeal was filed, or two years from the date the appellate court issued the mandate if a direct appeal was taken.
Under Rule 3.850, the most common claim raised is ineffective assistance of trial counsel. If a defendant can show that his trial attorney's actions were deficient and that he was prejudiced by this deficient behavior, he may be able to withdraw his plea or have the results of the trial overturned. Typically, you only have one opportunity to file a Rule 3.850 motion.
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Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence:
Under Rule 3.800(a), a motion can be filed to correct an illegal sentence. This motion is only successful if the illegality of the sentence is apparent from the fact of the record. In other word, no additional evidence or testimony can be presented. The most common 3.800(a) issues involve mistakes made in showing classification as a habitual felony offender, mistakes on scoresheets, and mistakes made in determining credit for time served in jail.
If you or a loved one need an experiened Appellate Attorney for a direct criminal appeal or other post-sentencing options, contact the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., for a free consultation. We represent clients in direct criminal appeals in Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and the surrounding areas throughout Florida.
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Finding a Lawyer for a Criminal Appeal in Florida
The criminal defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent men and women in direct appeals after a conviction for any felony, misdemeanor or DUI conviction. We also represent clients found to be in violation of their probation after a hearing in a felony or misdemeanor case.
The Florida appellate lawyers at the Sammis Law Firm are ready to talk with you about the case. Strict time limits are imposed in these cases so talk with an attorney as soon as possible about the options. We handle direct criminal appeals throughout Florida and specifically in the greater Tampa Bay area including: Tampa in Hillsborough County, Dade City and New Port Richey in Pasco County, Brooksville in Hernando County, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, Bradenton in Manatee County, Sarasota in Sarasota County, and Bartow in Polk County, Florida. Call our appellate attorneys today to discuss any criminal direct appeal or post-conviction motion.