Saturday, April 14, 2012


The Federal Appeals Court for the Eleventh Circuit, which has jurisdiction over federal cases in the Tampa Bay area, recently found that the crime of False Imprisonment, under Florida law is not always  a crime of violence. The designation of a prior as being or not being a crime of violence is important for federal enhancement of sentences under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
In Rosales-Bruno, the Criminal Information upon which the Defendant was initially charged in the state of Florida case tracked the wording of Florida statute.Under Florida law a Defendant can commit a false imprisonment by merely "secretly confining" another person.

Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney often feels confined by having to listen to other lawyer's (and his own) interminable arguments in certain Courtrooms in Tampa Bay, does that count as false imprisonment?

Self-portrait of Pinellas False Imprisonment in Clearwater, Florida
Annibale Carracci, Self Portrait, 1604
The court held that secretly confining another person does not necessarily always rise to the level of "the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person of another." 
The prosecutor using Shepard documents attempted to establish that the crime was committed by the "use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person of another." Yet the government was unable to effectively use the Shepard documents to meet its burden of proving that the prior offense was a crime of violence, so the Appeals Court reversed the sentencing Court's ruling to enhance the Defendant's sentence.
 The Government also argued in its appeal brief that at the sentencing defense counsel failed to adequately preserve the issue for appeal by properly objecting to the factual basis in the Pre-sentencing Report which described the prior False Imprisonment conviction in detail.  Although the Appeals Court held that the PSR paragraph detailing the prior was properly objected to at the sentencing; it's always important for a Pinellas Criminal Defense Lawyer to remember to timely object to any facts in the PSR which may be subject to a later appeal.