Stoute v. State, 4D04-2936.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation915 So.2d 1245
Docket NumberNo. 4D04-2936.,4D04-2936.
PartiesDevon P. STOUTE, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date21 December 2005

Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and James W. McIntire, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

Charles J. Crist, Jr., Attorney General, Tallahassee, and August A. Bonavita, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

MAY, J.

The defendant appeals his thirty-year sentence with a ten-year minimum mandatory for conviction of attempted second degree murder with a firearm. He suggests the court erred in enhancing his sentence based upon the firearm because the court's instructions to the jury made possession of a firearm an element of the crime. We disagree and affirm.

The State charged the defendant with attempted first degree murder, a first degree felony. The trial court instructed the jury on the lesser-included offenses as follows:

Before you can find the defendant guilty of attempted second degree murder with a firearm, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

Number one, the defendant intentionally committed an act which would have resulted in the death of Collin Smith, except that someone prevented the defendant from killing Collin Smith or he failed to do so.

Number two, the act was eminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

And, number three, the defendant possessed a firearm, during the commission of the crime.

The defendant did not object to the instruction. The jury found the defendant guilty of attempted second degree murder with a firearm.

The trial court initially sentenced the defendant as a habitual offender to life in prison. After a successful appeal to this court, and upon remand, the trial court determined the defendant was not a habitual offender and re-sentencing was required. See Stoute v. State, 802 So.2d 408 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).

The trial court conducted two hearings prior to re-sentencing the defendant. The defendant maintained the trial court had made possession of a firearm an element of the crime through its instructions to the jury, thereby preventing the court from reclassifying the conviction of a second degree felony to a first degree felony due to possession of a firearm under section 775.087(1), Florida Statutes (1999). Because the sentencing court had not tried the case, it reviewed the record and independently researched the issue. The sentencing court concluded the conviction "is a first degree felony punishable up to 30 years in prison with an applicable 10 year minimum mandatory Florida State Prison sentence under the 10-20-Life," and sentenced the defendant accordingly.

"The legality of a sentence is a question of law and is subject to de novo review." Flowers v. State, 899 So.2d 1257, 1259 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

The defendant was convicted of attempted second degree murder with a firearm. Section 782.04(2), Florida Statutes (1999), defines second degree murder as

[t]he unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

The statute does not include the use of a firearm as an essential element of the crime. See State v. Tinsley, 683 So.2d 1089, 1090 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996).

Section 775.087(1), Florida Statutes (1999) provides:

(1) Unless otherwise provided by law, whenever a person is charged with a felony, except a felony in which the use of a weapon or firearm is an essential element, and during the commission of such felony the defendant carries, displays, uses, threatens to use, or attempts to use any weapon or firearm, or during the commission of such felony the defendant commits an aggravated battery, the felony for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as follows:...

(b) In the case of a felony of the second degree, to a felony of the first degree.

(Emphasis added).

When, as in this case, the conviction is for an attempted crime and involves the use of a firearm, then the court should sequentially: (1) reduce the classification of the underlying crime due to the "attempt"; then, (2) apply the weapon enhancement to increase the classification. Goutier v. State, 692 So.2d 978, 978 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997). Following that procedure in this case required the trial court to drop the level of the defendant's conviction due to the "attempt" from a first degree felony to a second degree felony. Then, the court could reclassify the conviction for the defendant's use of the firearm.

The defendant relies on cases involving aggravated battery charges to support his position that possession of a...

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  • Harold v. Sec'y
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida
    • 21 Febrero 2019
    ...or permanent disfigurement; or (2) the defendant uses a deadly weapon. § 784.045(1)(a), Fla. Stat.; see also Stoute v. State, 915 So. 2d 1245, 1248 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005) (quoting § 784.045(1)(a), Fla. Stat.) ("Aggravated battery is an alternative conduct crime. Pursuant to the statute, the St......
  • Antoine v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 7 Mayo 2014
    ...maximum term of 30 years imprisonment. As a challenge to the legality of a sentence, our review is de novo. See Stoute v. State, 915 So.2d 1245, 1247 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005). As part of Florida's 10/20/Life Statute, section 775.087(2)(a) 3., Florida Statutes (2009), provides for a mandatory min......
  • Roberts v. State, 5D05-385.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 24 Marzo 2006
    ...1. We would note, however, that section 775.087(1) is also regularly discussed as a "reclassification" statute. See Stoute v. State, 915 So.2d 1245 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005); Davis v. State, 884 So.2d 1058 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004); Perry v. State, 858 So.2d 1270 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003). Although our suprem......
  • Bell v. State
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    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 3 Septiembre 2021
    ...2002) ; Brown v. State , 827 So. 2d 1054 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002) ; Simms v. State , 949 So. 2d 373 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007) ; Stoute v. State , 915 So. 2d 1245 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005) ; Harris v. State , 789 So. 2d 1114 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001). BLACK, SLEET, and LABRIT, JJ., ...
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