Amlotte v. State

Decision Date06 September 1984
Docket NumberNo. 64107,64107
Citation456 So.2d 448
CourtFlorida Supreme Court
PartiesAnita Marie AMLOTTE, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.

James B. Gibson, Public Defender and Brynn Newton, Asst. Public Defender, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, for petitioner.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen. and Margene A. Roper, Asst. Atty. Gen., Daytona Beach, for respondent.

PER CURIAM.

This is a petition to review a decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal reported as Amlotte v. State, 435 So.2d 249 (Fla. 5th DCA 1983), in which the district court held that "attempted" felony murder is a crime in Florida. The district court certified the following questions to be of great public importance:

a) DOES THERE EXIST UNDER FLORIDA LAW A CRIMINAL OFFENSE OF ATTEMPTED FELONY MURDER?

b) IF SO, WHAT ARE ITS ESSENTIAL CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS?

435 So.2d at 258. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. We find that attempted felony murder is a crime in Florida and, therefore, we answer the first certified question in the affirmative. The essential elements of the crime are the perpetration of or the attempt to perpetrate an enumerated felony, together with an intentional overt act, or the aiding and abetting of such an act, which could, but does not, cause the death of another. We approve the decision of the district court.

The facts in the instant case reflect that the petitioner, Amlotte, went to a mobile home and asked to use the occupants' telephone. After being allowed into the trailer to use the telephone, Amlotte went to the door of the home and jumped outside. When she did so, two men covered with white sheets and carrying guns appeared. The woman occupant of the home called out to her husband to shoot the men. The husband, who had loaded his gun when he became suspicious of Amlotte while she was using the telephone, fired at the men. The two men returned fire and then left with Amlotte.

Amlotte was charged, in a three-count information, with unlawfully entering or remaining in a structure with intent to commit an offense therein, shooting into an occupied dwelling, and attempted felony murder. With regard to the attempted felony murder count, the information charged that Amlotte did "unlawfully attempt to kill a human being ... by shooting in the direction of him, and said attempted killing was committed by ... [her] or a person acting in concert with her, while engaged in the perpetration, or in the attempt to perpetrate a burglary." Amlotte was found guilty on each count and was sentenced to serve three concurrent seven and one-half year prison terms.

Petitioner appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, contending that the crime of attempted felony murder does not exist in Florida. The district court, in an en banc decision, affirmed petitioner's conviction for attempted felony murder. Relying on section 777.04(1), Florida Statutes (1981), which defines attempt, and on this Court's decision in Fleming v. State, 374 So.2d 954 (Fla.1979), a majority of the district court held that "attempted first degree murder done in the felony murder mode is a crime." 435 So.2d at 251.

We agree with the district court that the crime of attempted felony murder exists in this state. In Fleming v. State, we considered the validity of a guilty plea to attempted first-degree murder for the shooting of a police officer. The defendant in Fleming asserted that there was no factual basis for the plea because the officer was shot accidentally during a struggle for the defendant's gun. We recognized that "[a]n 'attempt' consists of two essential elements: (1) a specific intent to commit the crime, and (2) a separate overt, ineffectual act done towards its commission." 374 So.2d at 955 (citations omitted). We further noted that "[a]ny homicide committed during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a felony constitutes first degree murder. State of mind is immaterial for the felony is said to supply the intent." Id. at 956 n. 1 (emphasis added). Although "the offense of attempted first degree murder requires a premeditated design to effect death," we concluded that "where the alleged 'attempt' occurs during the commission of a felony ... the law presumes the existence of premeditation, just as it does under the felony murder rule." Id. at 956 (citations omitted). We find that whenever an individual perpetrates or attempts to perpetrate an enumerated felony, and during the commission of the felony the individual commits, aids, or abets a specific overt act which could, but does not, cause the death of another, that individual will have committed the crime of attempted felony murder. Because the attempt occurs during the commission of a felony, the law, as under the felony murder doctrine, presumes the existence of the specific intent required to prove attempt.

Our conclusion is consistent with the reasoning in our recent decision in Gentry v. State, 437 So.2d 1097, 1098-99 (Fla.1983), in which we held that "there are offenses that may be successfully prosecuted as an attempt without proof of a specific intent to commit the relevant completed offense." We determined that "[i]f the state is not required to show specific intent to successfully prosecute the completed crime, it will not be required to show specific intent to successfully prosecute an attempt to commit that crime." Id. at 1099.

The certified questions having been answered, we approve the decision of the district court.

It is so ordered.

BOYD, C.J., and ADKINS, ALDERMAN, EHRLICH and SHAW, JJ., concur.

OVERTON, J., dissents with an opinion in which McDONALD, J., concurs.

OVERTON, Justice, dissenting.

I dissent. The majority opinion has made it impossible to distinguish those crimes for which there can be an attempt from those crimes for which there cannot be an attempt. A conviction for the offense of attempt has always required proof of the intent to commit the underlying crime. See Hutchinson v. State, 315 So.2d 546 (Fla. 2d DCA 1975); Robinson v. State, 263 So.2d 595 (Fla. 3d DCA 1972); Groneau v. State, 201 So.2d 599 (Fla. 4th DCA), review denied, 207 So.2d 52 (Fla.1967). By recognizing the crime of attempt with regard to felony murder, a crime in which the intent to kill is presumed, the Court has created a crime which necessitates the finding of an intent to commit a crime which requires no proof of intent. As stated by Judge Cowart in his dissenting opinion to the district court decision, this holding creates a "crime requiring one to intend to do an unintended act which is a logical absurdity and certainly an inadequate conceptual basis for something that needs to be...

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  • State v. Kimbrough
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • 3 Junio 1996
    ...v. Patterson, 209 Cal.App.3d 610, 257 Cal.Rptr. 407, 409 (1989); State v. Gray, 654 So.2d 552, 554 (Fla.1995) overruling Amlotte v. State, 456 So.2d 448 (Fla.1984); People v. Harris, 72 Ill.2d 16, 17 Ill.Dec. 838, 843, 377 N.E.2d 28, 33 (1978); People v. Viser, 62 Ill.2d 568, 343 N.E.2d 903......
  • Waits v. People, 84SC391
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • 8 Septiembre 1986
    ...jurisdictions have recognized attempted felony murder as a crime. See Wilson v. State, 272 Ark. 361, 614 S.W.2d 663 (1981); Amlotte v. State, 456 So.2d 448 (Fla.1984); Johnson v. State, 486 So.2d 657 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1986); Hardy v. State, 301 Md. 124, 482 A.2d 474 (1984). Because the advis......
  • Brown v. State
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    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 5 Octubre 2000
    ...Finally, in State v. Gray, 654 So.2d 552 (Fla.1995), this Court adopted Justice Overton's dissent in Amlotte v. State, 456 So.2d 448 (Fla.1984) (Overton, J., dissenting), wherein he argued that the crime of attempted felony murder was logically impossible. The Gray court quoted the followin......
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    • Florida Supreme Court
    • 10 Julio 2003
    ...fiction. For purposes of comparison, a classic case wherein a decision of this Court proved unworkable in this regard was Amlotte v. State, 456 So.2d 448 (Fla.1984). There, we relied on several legal fictions to uphold the existence of the criminal offense of attempted felony murder. Those ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • When is strict criminal liability just?
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 87 No. 4, June 1997
    • 22 Junio 1997
    ...culpability principle seems to justify treating successful Bernard as harshly as successful Arnold. (124) But see Amlotte v. State, 456 So. 2d 448 (Fla. 1984). In Amlotte, court recognized attempted felony-murder and struggled to confine it to cases in which the felon commits "a specific ov......

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