Carawan v. State

Decision Date03 September 1987
Docket NumberNo. 69384,69384
Citation515 So.2d 161,12 Fla. L. Weekly 445
Parties12 Fla. L. Weekly 445 Dion Michael CARAWAN, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

James B. Gibson, Public Defender, Seventh Judicial Circuit, and James R. Wulchak, Chief, Appellate Div., Asst. Public Defender, Daytona Beach, appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., and Richard B. Martell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Daytona Beach, for appellee.

BARKETT, Justice.

We have jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section (3)(b)(5) of the Florida Constitution, based on the district court's request in Carawan v. State, 495 So.2d 239 (Fla. 5th DCA 1986), for "immediate resolution by the Florida Supreme Court due to issues of great public importance." 1 The issue is whether, and under what circumstances, a defendant may be convicted of multiple criminal offenses based on a single act.

The appellant, Carawan, was charged with attempted first-degree murder (by shooting the victim), aggravated battery (by shooting the victim), and shooting into an occupied structure. The charges stemmed from an incident occurring subsequent to a party given by the victim, Memphis Knighten, at his apartment on the night before Knighten's wedding. Although not invited, the appellant appeared with a friend and attempted to speak to the future bride, who had formerly dated Carawan's brother. After being told to leave, Carawan and his friend sat in their car in the parking lot drinking beer and smoking marijuana. After the victim, Knighten, smashed the windshield of the car, Carawan and his friend drove off, threatening revenge.

Later that night, Knighten heard a shotgun blast and went to his back door to investigate, at which time he was wounded. The trial court found that four shots were fired into the structure, but issued no finding on the number that actually struck Knighten. As conceded by both parties on appeal, Knighten was struck with a spray of more than 100 pellets of birdshot, striking him in the arm, rib cage, chest and stomach. Knighten said he believed that two separate blasts hit him, but there was no other testimony establishing with any certainty the number of blasts that actually struck him.

Carawan was convicted of attempted manslaughter, aggravated battery, and shooting into an occupied structure. The trial court accepted the guidelines scoresheet which scored the aggravated battery as the primary offense and listed the attempted manslaughter and shooting into an occupied dwelling as additional offenses, and sentenced Carawan to four and a half years imprisonment on each offense, to run concurrently.

Appellant contends that the record does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was struck by more than a single shotgun blast, and that Carawan thus cannot be convicted of both attempted manslaughter and aggravated battery. Alternatively, Carawan argues that even if the victim was struck by two shots, they were fired in such a rapid succession that the two shots were indistinguishable, occurring in the same temporal and spatial relationship with each other, thus causing only a single criminal offense for which the legislature did not intend dual convictions.

The district court, finding that the law of double jeopardy in Florida had become "curiouser and curiouser," declined to rule on the issue and certified it to this Court as a matter of great public importance.

The district court's confusion arises from prior decisions of this Court attempting to divine the legislative intent behind penal statutes by, in some cases, applying a "strict" Blockburger 2 analysis, e.g., State v. Rodriguez, 500 So.2d 120 (Fla.1986); State v. Baker, 456 So.2d 419 (Fla.1984), and in other cases, using what at first blush may appear to be a broader approach, e.g., State v. Boivin, 487 So.2d 1037 (Fla.1986), Mills v. State, 476 So.2d 172 (Fla.1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1031, 106 S.Ct. 1241, 89 L.Ed.2d 349 (1986). See Barton v. State, 507 So.2d 638 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987) (en banc) (expressing confusion over Florida double jeopardy law). We have accepted jurisdiction to elaborate the constitutional and statutory rationale upon which our prior decisions are grounded.

The central question before us is the proper method of construing criminal statutes in light of the prohibition against double jeopardy contained in the state and federal constitutions. 3 The two double jeopardy clauses forbid not only successive trials for the same offense, but also prohibit subjecting a defendant to multiple punishments for the same offense. As the United States Supreme Court initially and logically explained in Ex parte Lange, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 163, 173, 21 L.Ed. 872 (1873):

For of what avail is the constitutional protection against more than one trial if there can be any number of sentences pronounced on the same verdict? Why is it that, having once been tried and found guilty, he can never be tried again for that offence? Manifestly it is not the danger or jeopardy of being a second time found guilty. It is the punishment that would legally follow the second conviction which is the real danger guarded against by the Constitution. But if, after judgment has been rendered on the conviction, and the sentence of that judgment executed on the criminal, he can be again sentenced on that conviction to another and different punishment, or to endure the same punishment a second time, is the constitutional restriction of any value? Is not its intent and its spirit in such a case as much violated as if a new trial had been had, and on a second conviction a second punishment inflicted?

The argument seems to us irresistible, and we do not doubt that the Constitution was designed as much to prevent the criminal from being twice punished for the same offence as from being twice tried for it.

Indeed, the prohibition against double jeopardy was aimed as much at the evil of multiple punishments for single offenses as at the evil of retrial for the same offense:

The double jeopardy provision, as originally submitted by James Madison to the House of Representatives on June 8, 1789, read: "No person shall be subject, except in cases of impeachment, to more than one punishment or one trial for the same offence." ... But, in the Senate, the provision was rewritten to incorporate Blackstone's use of the term "jeopardy" ... and the phrase "be put twice in jeopardy of life or limb by any public prosecution" was substituted for the latter half of Madison's clause.... A conference committee later deleted the words "by any public prosecution." ... The Senate modification of the double jeopardy provision attempted only to clarify the meaning of the clause by incorporating the more familiar common-law language.... Thus, there was no intention to eliminate the multiple-punishment prohibition.

Note, A Definition of Punishment for Implementing the Double Jeopardy Clause's Multiple-Punishment Prohibition, 90 Yale L.J. 632, 635 n. 16 (1981) (citations omitted). We find that our own double jeopardy clause in article I, section 9, Florida Constitution, which has endured in this state with only minor changes since the constitution of 1845, was intended to mirror this intention of those who framed the double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment.

At the same time, however, we recognize that the power to define crimes and punishments in derogation of the common law inheres in the legislative branch, Borges v. State, 415 So.2d 1265, 1267 (Fla.1982); Wilson v. State, 225 So.2d 321, 323 (Fla.1969), rev'd on other grounds, 403 U.S. 947, 91 S.Ct. 2286, 29 L.Ed.2d 858 (1971), subject to constitutional limitations. It is presumed, however, that this legislative prerogative is not exercised by punishing the same offense under more than one statutory provision, since the legislature can achieve the same result with greater economy by merely increasing the penalty for the single underlying offense. Thus, before reaching the question of any possible constitutional violation, courts necessarily must first determine what the legislature intended to punish and precisely how. The double jeopardy issue has not been raised in any case in which the legislature clearly, unambiguously and precisely stated an intent to punish the exact same offense under separate statutory provisions, 4 and we do not reach this question today. Rather, the issue has arisen in those cases where it cannot be said with certainty what the legislature intended. Such is the case before us.

To determine intent in this case and those like it, courts resort to time-honored rules of construing criminal statutes, which in this state have been partially codified in our criminal code. The present confusion in the law results from the perception that courts are inconsistently applying these rules of construction, or perhaps, on occasion, are failing to apply any rule at all. We believe, that despite some lack of clarity in the past, the position of this Court can be defined and our prior decisions harmonized.

We begin by reviewing the three main rules of statutory construction applicable in this context.

The first is that absent a violation of constitutional right, specific, clear and precise statements of legislative intent control regarding intended penalties. Only where no clear intent exists does any other rule of construction come into play. As we have noted previously, rules of statutory construction "are useful only in case of doubt and should never be used to create doubt, only to remove it." State v. Egan, 287 So.2d 1, 4 (Fla.1973). The courts never resort to rules of construction where the legislative intent is plain and unambiguous. Holly v. Auld, 450 So.2d 217, 219 (Fla.1984); Reino v. State, 352 So.2d 853, 860 (Fla.1977); Rinker Materials Corp. v. North Miami, 286 So.2d 552, 554 (Fla.1973). Unfortunately, comprehensive statements of intent are rare because of our increasingly complex criminal codes...

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    ...explained in State v. Glenn, 558 So.2d 4 (Fla.1990), where we declined to apply retroactively the double jeopardy ruling of Carawan v. State, 515 So.2d 161 (Fla.1987): Granting collateral relief ... would have a strong impact upon the administration of justice. Courts would be forced to ree......
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    ...The double jeopardy question raised in the instant case requires an analysis of legislative intent as enunciated in Carawan v. State, 515 So.2d 161 (Fla.1987), since the incident giving rise to the convictions took place prior to the July 1, 1988, effective date of section 775.021(4), Flori......
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    ...a sentence of burglary, robbery and false imprisonment. See also Lindsey, 446 So.2d 1074. Those decisions were followed by Carawan v. State, 515 So.2d 161 (Fla.1987), which considered dual convictions of aggravated battery and attempted manslaughter. The Florida constitutional clause of dou......
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