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Appellate Court Vacates Two of Four Convictions in Casey Anthony Case
On Friday , January 25, 2013, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion vacating two of the four convictions previously imposed against Casey Anthony for the crimes of furnishing false information to law enforcement during an investigation. The court noted that both the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution contain “double jeopardy” clauses prohibiting multiple prosecutions , convictions, and punishments for the same criminal offense.
The court evaluated the facts which established that Casey Anthony was initially interviewed at her parents residence in the early morning hours of July 16, 2008 regarding the disappearance of her young daughter, Caylee Anthony. Later that same day, she was again interviewed while at Universal Studios and during each of the interviews she made several false statements to the police investigators.
Anthony’s criminal defense attorney argued double jeopardy principles precluded her from being convicted for more than a single violation since her false statements constituted a single offense. The State took the position that each of the false statements constituted a separate offense and urged the court to find no double jeopardy violation. The court rejected both arguments and concluded that , under the specific facts of this case, that Anthony could be properly convicted of two counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation.
Distinguishing between the word “statement” , as used in Florida’s perjury statute, and the word “information” as used in the statute under review, the court held that each interview constituted a separate criminal episode during which false information was furnished. The court simply stated that the term “information” can encompass one or many statements of fact and based on the wording of the particular statute under review, they could not conclude the legislature intended to authorize separate punishment for each statement during a single interview.
The court was also asked to review whether Florida’s statute 837.055 ( providing false information to a law enforcement officer during a missing person investigation) was even constitutional . The court concluded it was. Additionally, the court concluded that Anthony was not entitled to Miranda warnings prior to giving her statement to law enforcement since she was not in custody at the time she made the statements.