Thompson v. State, No. 87505

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtHARDING; KOGAN; WELLS; WELLS
Citation695 So.2d 691
Parties22 Fla. L. Weekly S340 Darryl THOMPSON, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.
Decision Date12 June 1997
Docket NumberNo. 87505

Page 691

695 So.2d 691
22 Fla. L. Weekly S340
Darryl THOMPSON, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of Florida, Respondent.
No. 87505.
Supreme Court of Florida.
June 12, 1997.

Roy D. Wasson, Special Assistant Public Defender, Miami, for Petitioner.

Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General and Consuelo Maingot, Assistant Attorney General, Fort Lauderdale, for Respondent.

HARDING, Justice.

We have for review Thompson v. State, 667 So.2d 470 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996), which expressly and directly conflicts with the opinion in Grinage v. State, 641 So.2d 1362 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994), approved, 656 So.2d 457 (Fla.1995). 1 We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const.

Thompson was charged with attempted felony murder, attempted premeditated murder, and armed robbery after he used a flash-money roll in an attempt to purchase cocaine from an informant and shot at a detective on the scene. Thompson was convicted of attempted felony murder of a law enforcement officer and of armed robbery.

On appeal, Thompson alleged the trial court erred by denying his requested jury instruction that knowledge of the victim's status as a law enforcement officer is an element of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer under section 784.07(3), Florida Statutes (1993). The Third District

Page 692

Court of Appeal held there was no error because the statute simply provides for enhancement and does not require that the defendant had knowledge that the victim was a law enforcement officer. The decision of the district court in this case directly conflicts with the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Grinage v. State, which found that section 784.07(3) created a new substantive offense and that knowledge of the victim's status as an officer was a necessary element of that offense. Grinage, 641 So.2d at 1365. This Court granted conflict review.

The issue in this case is whether knowledge of the victim's status as a law enforcement officer is an element of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer under subsection (3) of section 784.07, Florida Statutes (1993). 2 We answer this question in the affirmative and hold that knowledge of the victim's status as a law enforcement officer is a necessary element of the offense.

The statute at issue is titled "Assault or battery of law enforcement officers, firefighters, or other specified officers: reclassification of offenses." Section 784.07(2) and (3) are relevant to our analysis, and state in pertinent part:

(2) Whenever any person is charged with knowingly committing an assault or battery upon a law enforcement officer ... engaged in the lawful performance of his duties, the offense for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as follows:....

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other section, any person who is convicted of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful performance of his duty or who is convicted of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer when the motivation for such attempt was related, all or in part, to the lawful duties of the officer, shall be guilty of a life felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.0825.

It is a settled principle of statutory construction that phrases within a statute are not to be read in isolation, but rather should be construed within the context of the entire section. Roberts v. State, 685 So.2d 1277, 1279 (Fla.1996). In this instance, the legislature chose to include subsection (3) within a statute which by title addresses assault and battery. Because subsection (2) of the statute is applicable when "any person is charged with knowingly committing an assault and battery upon a law enforcement officer," if a defendant was charged under subsection (2), the prosecution would clearly have to prove the defendant knew that his victim was an officer. It would be illogical and unreasonable to require that knowledge of the officer's status is an element which must be proved to convict a defendant of battery under subsection (2) of this statute and at the same time not require proof of knowledge of the officer's status to convict the defendant of attempting to shoot an officer under subsection (3).

In addition, the language and application of the subsection at issue here implicate a knowledge requirement. As the Fifth District Court of Appeal correctly noted in Grinage, the language of subsection (3) indicates that specific intent must be established to convict because the subsection specifically addresses "attempted murder of a law enforcement officer." As Justice Overton stated in his dissent in Amlotte v. State, 456 So.2d 448, 450 (Fla.1984)--arguing a position we later accepted in State v. Gray, 654 So.2d 552 (Fla.1995)--when dealing with specific intent crimes, "[a] conviction for the offense of attempt has always required proof of the intent to commit the underlying crime." Amlotte, 456 So.2d at 450.

Moreover, subsection (3) addresses two possible fact patterns within a single sentence: an attempt to murder an "officer in the lawful performance of his duties" and an attempt to murder an officer where the "motivation for such attempt is related, all or in

Page 693

part, to the lawful duties of the officer." The second part of the sentence in subsection (3) implicitly requires a factual finding that the defendant had knowledge of the victim's status, because the prosecution could not show that the motivation for the attempt was related to the officer's...

To continue reading

Request your trial
48 practice notes
  • Kennedy v. Louisiana, No. 07-343 (U.S. 6/25/2008), No. 07-343.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 25 Junio 2008
    ...But it is either dicta, see State v. Barnum, 921 So. 2d 513, 526 (Fla. 2005) (addressing the retroactivity of Thompson v. State, 695 So. 2d 691 (Fla. 1997)); State v. Coleman, 185 Mont. 299, 327, 605 P. 2d 1000, 1017 (1979) (upholding the defendant's death sentence for aggravated kidnaping)......
  • Kennedy v. Louisiana, No. 07–343.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 1 Octubre 2008
    ...opinions. But it is either dicta, see State v. Barnum, 921 So.2d 513, 526 (Fla.2005) (addressing the retroactivity of Thompson v. State, 695 So.2d 691 (Fla.1997)); State v. Coleman, 185 Mont. 299, 327, 605 P.2d 1000, 1017 (1979) (upholding the defendant's death sentence for aggravated kidna......
  • State v. Barnum, No. SC03-1315.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 22 Septiembre 2005
    ...law enforcement officer. Subsequently, Barnum was appointed counsel, an amended motion was filed asserting error under Thompson v. State, 695 So.2d 691 (Fla.1997),3 and an evidentiary hearing was held. In Thompson, this Court held that "knowledge of the victim's status as a law enforcement ......
  • Connolly v. State, No. 3D09–280.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 29 Julio 2015
    ...rules of statutory construction require that we construe the language in such a way as to avoid an absurd result. Thompson v. State, 695 So.2d 691 (Fla.1997). The majority's expansive construction of the phrase “during the commission of” would indeed lead to unreasonable and absurd results ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
48 cases
  • Kennedy v. Louisiana, No. 07-343 (U.S. 6/25/2008), No. 07-343.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 25 Junio 2008
    ...But it is either dicta, see State v. Barnum, 921 So. 2d 513, 526 (Fla. 2005) (addressing the retroactivity of Thompson v. State, 695 So. 2d 691 (Fla. 1997)); State v. Coleman, 185 Mont. 299, 327, 605 P. 2d 1000, 1017 (1979) (upholding the defendant's death sentence for aggravated kidnaping)......
  • Kennedy v. Louisiana, No. 07–343.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 1 Octubre 2008
    ...opinions. But it is either dicta, see State v. Barnum, 921 So.2d 513, 526 (Fla.2005) (addressing the retroactivity of Thompson v. State, 695 So.2d 691 (Fla.1997)); State v. Coleman, 185 Mont. 299, 327, 605 P.2d 1000, 1017 (1979) (upholding the defendant's death sentence for aggravated kidna......
  • State v. Barnum, No. SC03-1315.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 22 Septiembre 2005
    ...law enforcement officer. Subsequently, Barnum was appointed counsel, an amended motion was filed asserting error under Thompson v. State, 695 So.2d 691 (Fla.1997),3 and an evidentiary hearing was held. In Thompson, this Court held that "knowledge of the victim's status as a law enforcement ......
  • Connolly v. State, No. 3D09–280.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 29 Julio 2015
    ...rules of statutory construction require that we construe the language in such a way as to avoid an absurd result. Thompson v. State, 695 So.2d 691 (Fla.1997). The majority's expansive construction of the phrase “during the commission of” would indeed lead to unreasonable and absurd results ......
  • 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