As its name suggests, violent crimes are offenses that involve a violent act or the threat of committing violence against another person. Given that these actions represent a risk for people’s welfare, violent crimes in Florida are associated with hefty penalties. Therefore, if you are facing charges, you should enlist the assistance of a violent crimes attorney.
Committing a forcible felony in Florida could potentially affect your freedom and civil rights. If the prosecution has a strong case against you and you are convicted, you could face long imprisonment terms, expensive fines and a permanent criminal record that can harm your reputation.
Knowing that your future is in peril for a violent crime charge or accusation can be unsettling. However, taking appropriate legal action can increase your chances of a successful outcome. Our defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel understand what you are going through and we provide you with the compassion and aggressive defense that you deserve.
What Are Violent Crimes in Florida?
In Florida, offenses that involve the use or threat of physical force or violence against a person are considered violent crimes. A few of these offenses are misdemeanors, but due to their severe nature, most violent crimes are considered felonies. Hence, penalties range from 60 days to 30 years imprisonment.
Violent crimes are actions that involve some sort of violence. Note that this “violence” does not necessarily mean the presence of injuries or physical harm. By threatening to hurt another, a person might be committing an offense and could be charged with a violent crime.
There are different forms of violent crimes: how severe the penalties or charges are depends on how serious the offense is as well as the defendant’s prior convictions. Given the broadness of this term, some violent crimes are considered misdemeanors while others are classified as felonies.
Based on the definition provided, there are numerous offenses that can fall under the violent crime category. Below there is a list of the most common violent crimes as well as the associated penalties that the Goldman Wetzel defense attorneys handle. If you have questions about your charges, do not hesitate to contact us.
Florida violent felonies
In Florida, the following crimes are considered violent felonies. Notice that, depending on the severity of each one of these offenses, you might face less or more severe punishments.
This crime consists of using force, violence, or threats to steal money or property from another person. Examples of these offenses include carjacking, armed robbery, and home invasion. Depending on the amount of violence employed, the penalties for robbery crimes range from 5 years to life imprisonment.
In broad terms, child abuse consists of intentionally causing physical or mental injuries to a minor or encouraging another person to do so. The penalties for child abuse start as a third-degree felony, but if there are aggravating factors present, this can escalate your charges.
In Florida, using threats or force to abduct or imprison a person against their will is considered a first-degree felony. A conviction for kidnapping charges can result in up to 30 years or life imprisonment.
Assaulting a person with a deadly weapon or with the purpose to perpetuate a felony is considered aggravated assault. As a third-degree felony crime, a conviction for this crime can result in 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
In Florida, battering a pregnant woman, using a deadly weapon in a simple battery offense, or striking a person to cause severe injuries is considered aggravated battery. The charges for this offense start as a third-degree felony. Nevertheless, using a deadly weapon or committing battery on a law enforcement officer results in more severe penalties.
Arson is intentionally damaging or attempting to damage a property by using fire or any incendiary device. If the offender knew or had reasons to believe that the property was occupied, the crime will be considered a first-degree felony which is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Sexual battery or rape is the illegal act of performing a physical act or contact of sexual nature without the other person’s consent. The charges for this offense start as a second-degree felony, but they can increase if there were aggravating factors involved or the victim was a minor. Imprisonment sentences range from 15 years to life imprisonment.
Murder / Manslaughter
Causing the death of another human being is one of the most severe crimes in Florida. The charges and penalties for these offenses depend on the offender’s intent. Lesser forms of manslaughter can result in a second-degree felony conviction which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. In Florida, a first-degree murder is eligible for the death penalty.
Florida violent misdemeanors
Some of the most common violent misdemeanors that Goldman Wetzel handles include:
Causing harm or threatening to use violence against a family member is considered a domestic violence crime. Overall, simple forms of domestic violence are classified as first-degree misdemeanors.
An assault offense is when a person threatens to harm another one. If you are convicted for this crime, you will face a second-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
A battery offense is more serious than assault because it implies striking or touching another person without their consent. In Florida, a battery is considered a first-degree misdemeanor which leads to up to 1 year of jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000.
In Florida, it is unlawful to repeatedly follow or harass a person without having a legitimate purpose to do so. Simple forms of stalking are classified first-degree misdemeanor offenses.
Given that all violent crimes can lead to severe penalties, you should not take an accusation lightly. If you have been arrested or you are facing charges of a violent offense, you should seek the help of an experienced attorney that is able to find the best legal paths for your case. Contact the violent crimes attorneys at Goldman Wetzel for a free consultation.
Florida Violent Career Criminal
Florida law has different terms to refer to people that have prior felony convictions. Under this law, a violent career criminal is an offender that, as an adult, has been convicted for 3 or more times for certain crimes while the offender was serving sentence or within 5 years after their last conviction.
The offenses that qualify for a violent career offender include but are not limited to:
- Lewd and lascivious battery
- Aggravated assault or battery
- Aggravated child or elderly abuse
- Robbery and home invasion
When an offender is considered a violent criminal, not only will they not be eligible for an early release (other than pardon, conditional medical release, or executive clemency), but they will also need to register their residences with law enforcement.
As a violent career criminal, the penalties for a felony offense can be increased:
- Life or first-degree felony = life imprisonment
- Second-degree felony = up to 40 years with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years
- Third degree felony = up to 15 years with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years
Florida Violent Crimes Statistics
As established before, there are different crimes that could be classified as violent offenses. Nevertheless, among all the Florida violent crimes arrests in 2019, aggravated assault was the most common type of violent crime.
Over time, Florida law enforcement has taken measures to fight crime and reduce the amount of violence in the state. During 1990, the violent crime rate was at its highest with 1244.3 per 100,000 people while in 2019 this rate was 378.4 per 100,000 residents, which is 30.4% of the rate in 1990.
Defenses to Violent Crimes in Florida
Given that violent crimes encompass different offenses, the potential defenses that our criminal defense attorneys might be able to use depend on the specific circumstances of your case.
Some defenses that we might be able to use include but are not limited to:
- Mistaken identity
- Self-defense or defense of others
- False accusations
- Lack of evidence
- Lack of intention
- Harm to the victim was exaggerated or invalid
No matter what defense we use in your case, Goldman Wetzel will conduct their own research to find compelling evidence to support your defense. If you want to explore the potential strategies that we can use for your particular situation, speak to our violent crimes lawyers.
Speak to a Violent Crime Attorney
Violent crimes are severe in nature, as a result, Florida penalties are hefty. Given that you could lose your liberty and have a permanent criminal record, you should consider enlisting the help of an experienced and reputable criminal attorney that knows how to deal with these types of charges.
Since 2009, Goldman Wetzel has represented clients facing criminal charges throughout the Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas, Manatee, Hillsborough County, Sarasota, and surrounding areas.
If you have been arrested for a violent crime or have questions about your charges, speak to one of our violent crimes attorneys. Contact us via our webform or call us at (727) 828-3900 to schedule a free consultation.