What Is the Legal Definition of ''Conviction'' ?
Relying on Smith, in Timmons v. State, 97 Fla. 23, 27, 119 So. 393, 394 (1929), the Court held that when the State is alleging in an indictment that a defendant has previously been "convicted" of committing the same crime as charged in the indictment, the prior "conviction" must include a judgment of the court as well as a plea or verdict of guilty. Id.
Moreover, in Ellis v. State, 100 Fla. 27, 29, 129 So. 106, 108 (1930), this Court reviewed a defendant's writ of certiorari to the circuit court in which he challenged the judgment of that court as being ineffective because it failed to formally adjudicate him guilty.
Ruling for the defendant, the Court stated that "this court is firmly committed to the doctrine that a legal conviction of crime includes a judgment of the court as well as a plea or verdict of guilty." Id.
Other more recent examples of including the judgment of the court within the meaning of conviction include the following:
Accessory Before the Fact:
In Weathers v. State, 56 So. 2d 536 (Fla. 1952), this Court defined "conviction" as used in section 776.02, Florida Statutes (1949), which provided, "Whoever counsels, hires or otherwise procures a felony to be committed, may be . . . convicted as an accessory before the fact, either with the principal felon or after his conviction." Weathers, 56 So. 2d at 538 (emphasis omitted). the Court held that in this context a "conviction" occurs when the jury returns a verdict of guilty and the judge "clinches the finding" by adjudicating the defendant's guilt. 56 So. 2d at 538.
Automobile Transportation Brokerage License:
In Delta Truck Brokers Inc. v. King, 142 So. 2d 273 (Fla. 1962), this Court defined "convicted" as used in a statute disqualifying applicants for the transfer of automobile transportation brokerage licenses. Id. at 274 (citing section 323.31, Florida Statutes (1959)). the Court held that under this section "convicted" means both a determination of guilt and judgment of guilt by the court. See King, 142 So. 2d at 275.
Habitual Offender Statute:
In Overstreet v. State, 629 So. 2d 125, 125-26 (Fla. 1993), this Court held that where adjudication is withheld and defendant sentenced as youthful offender to incarceration followed by probation subsequently commits a felony while incarcerated for prior offenses, the prior offenses in which adjudication was withheld cannot be treated as prior convictions for purposes of habitual felony offender sentencing. See id. (citing section 775.084(2), Florida Statutes (1991)).
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon:
In State v. Snyder, 673 So. 2d 9, 10 (Fla. 1996), this Court addressed the definition of "convicted" under section 790.23, Florida Statutes (1991), which prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms. the Court held that section 790.23 applies "following an adjudication of guilt in the trial court." Snyder, 673 So. 2d at 10.