Experienced Representation for Violent Crime Charges
Violent crimes are considered some of the most serious criminal offenses in Florida. Even if you are merely accused of committing one, you could be viewed as guilty in the eyes of the public and media before ever stepping foot inside a courtroom. The courts will do their best to ensure you are locked up in prison for years or decades to come.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a violent crime, The Morris Firm is ready to protect your rights and your future. For the past ten years, our Pensacola violent crime attorney has utilized their extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system to help clients throughout Florida and has handled a number of high-profile cases. We know what it takes to either get your charges reduced or your entire case dismissed.
Contact us today at (850) 583-9112 to learn about your available legal options.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Violent Crimes Defense
Violent crimes charges are usually considered felonies. These charges can mean the loss of your freedom for months or years, or in the most serious cases, the loss of your life. At the very least, a felony conviction will stay on your permanent record and keep you from taking advantage of many employment and educational opportunities for years to come. Overzealous police and prosecutors can make your situation worse if they don’t afford you all the rights you have under U.S. and Florida law.
You need an advocate on your side who will make sure that your rights are protected and that any evidence presented against you at trial was fairly collected. A thorough investigation may uncover problems with your arrest or evidence that may exonerate you. A skilled defense attorney knows prosecutorial tactics and can make sure you get a fair trial.
Types of Violent Crimes in Florida
A violent crime involves the threat or the use of violence or force against another person. Such crimes often occur where violence is the main purpose of the offense and as a means to an end. For instance, violence is the main purpose when a person fires a gun at someone else to commit murder. On the other hand, violence as a means to an end happens if a person robs a bank and ends up shooting a security guard.
Common types of violent crimes our firm can handle include:
- Aggravated assault and battery
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated child abuse
- Aggravated abuse of an elderly or disabled adult
- Home-invasion robbery
- Dangerous weapons enhancements
Being convicted of a violent crime can result in a prison sentence that exceeds what is normally the statutory maximum for a particular offense and requires mandatory day-for-day terms of incarceration in state prison. Violent crime convictions can sometimes subject you to certain registration requirements with the sheriff’s office and Department of Motor Vehicles and drastically affect employment, education, housing, and other opportunities in life.
Misdemeanor Vs. Felony Violent Crimes
Less serious crimes are usually filed as misdemeanors, whereas those that do more damage or cause more harm are often considered felonies. With violent crimes, the difference may depend on how seriously the victim was injured or whether anyone was killed. These circumstances, as well as other factors, such as the use of a weapon or the prior convictions of the defendant, may increase the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, or to a felony of a higher degree.
Simple assault – This refers to making a threat of violence against another person, such that the victim fears that violence is imminent. Physical contact is not necessary for an assault charge. Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Simple battery – Intentionally striking or touching another person against their will or causing them bodily harm is simple battery and is a first-degree misdemeanor.
BUI/DUI and DUI manslaughter – While boating or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol by itself is often charged as a misdemeanor, injuring someone when behind the wheel of a vehicle will result in a third-degree felony charge. If the victim is killed, the charge becomes a second- or first-degree felony. DUI manslaughter carries a four-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
Child abuse – This crime may include neglect as well as intentionally causing bodily harm to a child. Neglect or abuse of a child is at least a third-degree felony, and abuse causing physical harm may be charged as a second- or first-degree felony.
Sexual battery – Also known as sexual assault or rape, sexual battery refers to forcing another person to engage in sexual intercourse against their will. Sexual battery also includes circumstances in which a victim is unable to give their consent, such as when they are asleep, in a coma, or passed out due to the effects of drugs or alcohol.
Murder – Florida has several degrees of severity for murder charges. These degrees do not correspond to their felony degrees, as third-degree murder is a second-degree felony, second-degree murder is a first-degree felony, and first-degree murder is a capital felony.
- Third-degree murder – Florida is one of only three states that has a third-degree murder charge. It is applied when a person unintentionally kills someone while committing a nonviolent felony.
- Second-degree murder – Applied when there is no evidence of premeditation or the defendant acted with a depraved mind.
- First-degree murder – The intentional killing of another person that is willful and premeditated is first-degree murder, and a conviction may result in the death penalty.
Frequently Asked Questions About Violent Crimes
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a violent crime, you undoubtedly have a lot of questions about your case. An experienced defense attorney is the best person to go to for more information about your own situation, but here are a few answers to some common questions about violent crimes.
What are my rights when I’m arrested for a violent crime?
When you are arrested, the police must inform you of your right to remain silent and to have an attorney present while you’re being questioned. If they don’t inform you of these rights, they may not be able to use information you give them as evidence against you. You must assert your right to remain silent if you wish to do so. It is very important to have an experienced defense attorney with you while you are being questioned.
What are some possible defenses for violent crimes?
The defense you use against a charge of violent crime will depend on the particular circumstances of your case, but some defenses that are often employed include:
Self-defense – If you were defending yourself or another person, it is lawful in this state to use force. You must show that the use of force was necessary for your situation, and that the amount of force used was proportional to the threat you faced.
Stand your ground – Florida’s stand your ground law, outlined in Statutes 776.12 and 776.13, says that a person does not have a “duty to retreat” when faced with imminent danger, and it presumes justification for a person’s use of force within their residence or vehicle. It provides immunity from prosecution for those who use force within the limits of the statute.
There may be other circumstances that aid your defense, including a lack of evidence, the reliability (or lack thereof) of witnesses, or your alibi. An investigation can be an important part of your overall defense strategy.
How are domestic violence charges handled?
Florida statute 741.2901 sets out special procedures for charges of domestic violence. After arrest, the accused person is not able to immediately post bond. They must be held in custody until brought before the court for admittance to bail. The State Attorney’s Office will perform an investigation of the defendant, which looks at their prior arrests, history of domestic violence, and prior injunctions (restraining orders) against them. The statute provides that the court consider the safety of the victim, their children, and any others if the defendant is released.
Let Our Firm Fight for Your Freedom
Due to the seriousness of violent crime penalties, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you get the most favorable outcome in your case. We can conduct a thorough investigation, collect and analyze evidence, and develop a strong and effective defense strategy on your behalf. Do not wait to let the legal process take its course at your expense. Be proactive with your defense immediately—your life depends on it.