When Can a Single Crime Committed Warrant Separate Pinishments ?
In Gordon v. State, 780 So. 2d 17 (Fla. 2001), this Court had to consider the "more complex" application of the second statutory exception-offenses which are degrees of the same offense as provided by statute.
This Court explained that construction of the second exception involves a two-step inquiry: whether the crimes constitute separate offenses under Blockburger, as codified in section 775.021(4)(a); and whether the crimes are "degree variants" or aggravated forms of the same core offense. Id. at 21.
Gordon involved the crimes of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, and a felony causing bodily injury.
This Court found that each of these crimes contains an element that the other does not, thereby satisfying the Blockburger test. Id. at 21-22.
In determining whether the second statutory exception (i.e., whether the crimes are aggravated forms of the same core offense) was applicable, this Court concluded that the offenses were not "degree variants" of the same underlying offense.
Gordon had argued that his offenses were synonymous because all involved the core offense of injuring someone. Id. at 23.
This Court concluded:
On the contrary, attempted first-degree murder punishes the intent to kill, whereas aggravated battery causing great bodily harm punishes the act of seriously injuring another person.
As the State correctly points out, felony causing bodily injury punishes the act of injuring someone during the commission of a felony, in this case armed robbery.
This concern is unrelated to aggravated battery, which does not require the commission of a felony.
In short, the separate evils of intending to kill, seriously injuring someone, and injuring someone during the commission of a felony are sufficiently distinct that they warrant separate punishment. Id. at 23.