The Law Office of James Davis, P.A.

Lesser Included Offense

Lesser Included Offense  

In Florida, it is not uncommon for prosecutors to charge a criminal defendant with several offenses even though they all arose from the same conduct. For example, a defendant may be charged with simple possession of cocaine and also with the possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

In order to prove the possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, the prosecution must first prove all the elements of possession of cocaine. Therefore, possession is a lesser included offense of the charge of possession with the intent to sell. Simplified, the greater offense of possession with intent to sell cannot be committed without committing the lesser offense of possession. If either offense charged can be committed without committing the other one, then neither one is a lesser included offense of the other.

On the one hand, it may seem this works to the advantage of prosecutors, giving them a greater chance of obtaining at least one conviction. A jury may be easily convinced a person possessed drugs. It may be much more difficult to prove the possession was with the intent to distribute

On the other hand, a conviction or acquittal on a lesser included offense may preclude prosecution on the other offense according to the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy.

Lesser Included Offenses and Double Jeopardy

If you have been charged with two offenses and one is a lesser included offense of the other, if you are convicted or acquitted on one of the charged offenses, the constitutional protection against double jeopardy means the prosecution cannot later charge you with the other one.

If you have been charged with any criminal offense, you need the assistance of a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Office of James Davis, P.A. Attorney Davis is exactly the experienced and aggressive advocate you need to have standing by your side and protecting all of your constitutional rights during the difficult time of defending yourself against criminal charges.