State v. Jackson, No. 71599

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtSHAW; McDONALD; GRIMES; GRIMES
Citation13 Fla. L. Weekly 352,526 So.2d 58
Decision Date02 June 1988
Docket NumberNo. 71599
Parties13 Fla. L. Weekly 352 STATE of Florida, Petitioner, v. Earl Morris JACKSON, Respondent.

Page 58

526 So.2d 58
13 Fla. L. Weekly 352
STATE of Florida, Petitioner,
v.
Earl Morris JACKSON, Respondent.
No. 71599.
Supreme Court of Florida.
June 2, 1988.

Page 59

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen. and Bradford L. Thomas, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, for petitioner.

Michael E. Allen, Public Defender, and P. Douglas Brinkmeyer and David A. Davis, Asst. Public Defenders, and Donald B. Mairs, Certified Legal Intern, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, for respondent.

SHAW, Justice.

We have for review Jackson v. State, 515 So.2d 394 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987), in which the district court certified conflict with Hall v. State, 469 So.2d 224 (Fla. 2d DCA 1985). We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. We approve the decision of the district court below.

Jackson, who had two prior grand theft convictions, was charged with a petit theft offense for shoplifting a pair of sunglasses. Upon conviction, the trial court reclassified Jackson's petit theft to felony petit theft pursuant to section 812.014(2)(c), Florida Statutes (1985), which provides that:

Upon a third or subsequent conviction for petit theft, the offender shall be guilty of a felony....

The district court reversed, ruling that where the statute calls for reclassification based upon two prior petit thefts, the trial court erred in basing reclassification upon two prior grand thefts. The district court certified conflict with Hall, in which the Second District Court of Appeal approved the reclassification of a petit theft to a felony petit theft under the same statute on the basis of a prior petit theft and grand theft.

It is axiomatic that where the legislature has defined a crime in specific terms, the courts are without authority to define it differently. See State v. Graydon, 506 So.2d 393 (Fla.1987). An exception is made where a literal interpretation of a statute yields absurd results. See Williams v. State, 492 So.2d 1051 (Fla.1986). Criminal statutes are to be construed strictly and in favor of the accused. Section 775.021(1), Florida Statutes (1987), provides:

The provisions of this code and offenses defined by other statutes shall be strictly construed; when the language is susceptible of differing constructions, it shall be construed most favorably to the accused.

The language of the instant statute is unequivocable--two petit thefts are required as prior offenses in order for a third petit theft to be reclassified as a felony petit theft. A literal...

To continue reading

Request your trial
24 practice notes
  • Lamont v. State, Nos. 89-2917
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • February 18, 1992
    ...fundamental principles of Florida law is that penal statutes must be strictly construed according to their letter. E.g., State v. Jackson, 526 So.2d 58 (Fla.1988); State ex rel. Cherry v. Davidson, 103 Fla. 954, 139 So. 177 (1931); Ex parte Bailey, 39 Fla. 734, 23 So. 552 (1897). This princ......
  • State v. Watts, No. 74117
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 15, 1990
    ...we note the basic rule that "[c]riminal statutes are to be construed strictly and in favor of the accused." State v. Jackson, 526 So.2d 58, 59 This interpretation is fully consistent with the policy of the Youthful Offender Act, which, we have said, was intended to provide a "sentencing alt......
  • McCloud v. State, No. SC17-2011
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 20, 2018
    ...the legislature has defined a crime in specific terms, the courts are without authority to define it differently." State v. Jackson , 526 So.2d 58, 59 (Fla. 1988). Instead of following this basic rule, the First District redefined the crime of witness tampering, adding an additional element......
  • McNeil v. State, No. 5D13–1810.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 13, 2015
    ...Stat. (1991) ; Scates v. State, 603 So.2d 504 (Fla.1992) ; 162 So.3d 278Lambert v. State, 545 So.2d 838 (Fla.1989) ; State v. Jackson, 526 So.2d 58 (Fla.1988) ; Ogden v. State, 605 So.2d 155 (Fla. 5th DCA 1992). We hold, therefore, that costs imposed pursuant to § 27.3455(1), Fla. Stat. (19......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Lamont v. State, Nos. 89-2917
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • February 18, 1992
    ...fundamental principles of Florida law is that penal statutes must be strictly construed according to their letter. E.g., State v. Jackson, 526 So.2d 58 (Fla.1988); State ex rel. Cherry v. Davidson, 103 Fla. 954, 139 So. 177 (1931); Ex parte Bailey, 39 Fla. 734, 23 So. 552 (1897). This princ......
  • State v. Watts, No. 74117
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 15, 1990
    ...we note the basic rule that "[c]riminal statutes are to be construed strictly and in favor of the accused." State v. Jackson, 526 So.2d 58, 59 This interpretation is fully consistent with the policy of the Youthful Offender Act, which, we have said, was intended to provide a "sentencing alt......
  • McCloud v. State, No. SC17-2011
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 20, 2018
    ...the legislature has defined a crime in specific terms, the courts are without authority to define it differently." State v. Jackson , 526 So.2d 58, 59 (Fla. 1988). Instead of following this basic rule, the First District redefined the crime of witness tampering, adding an additional element......
  • McNeil v. State, No. 5D13–1810.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 13, 2015
    ...Stat. (1991) ; Scates v. State, 603 So.2d 504 (Fla.1992) ; 162 So.3d 278Lambert v. State, 545 So.2d 838 (Fla.1989) ; State v. Jackson, 526 So.2d 58 (Fla.1988) ; Ogden v. State, 605 So.2d 155 (Fla. 5th DCA 1992). We hold, therefore, that costs imposed pursuant to § 27.3455(1), Fla. Stat. (19......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT