www.local10.com is reporting that a Dunkin Donuts was robbed last week. The crime was captured on video and depicts an employee and customer being held at gunpoint according to Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputies. The assailants were wearing masks to conceal their identity.
Video evidence becomes less useful to the prosecution were identifying features are not apparent by captured surveillance video. We have seen cases whereby the State Attorney attempted to establish identity by introducing video evidence depicting an individual walking in a manner similar to the defendant.
Theft crimes in Florida involving the use of a handgun are much more severe due to special criminal statutes that enhance the offense. 10-20-Life laws also come into play.
It is not necessary that a firearm be found for the prosecution to seek a conviction under Florida law. The mere allegation that a firearm was used is enough for the State to proceed.
Q- If a defendant is alleged to have used a firearm during the commission of a crime, can he still be prosecuted under enhanced gun laws if he claims that the firearm was a toy? Considering that the gun was never located wouldn’t the prosecutor be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt?
A- In Broward County, the State Attorney’s Office will file and proceed on charges involving firearms even where the only evidence tending to establish the firearm element is testimony by a witness to the crime. In fact, on more than one occasion, I have been forced to defend against gun charges where the gun was nothing more than a toy. Unfortunately, the toy was discarded and never recovered.
Victim testimony is not always accurate and such cases are highly defensible, unless, of course, the client is a repeat offender and unable to testify that the firearm was a toy. Repeat offender court is full of these types of cases.