Fort Myers Violent Crime Defense Lawyers
The violent crime rate in Florida is in the middle compared to other states, yet Florida’s incarceration rate is one of the highest in the country. If you are found guilty of committing assault, battery, or homicide in Florida, statistics show you are likely to end up in jail. Representation from a skilled criminal defense law firm can change those odds. The attorneys at Foley & Wilson Law Firm have over 45 years of experience in Florida criminal law as prosecutors and defense lawyers. They help people out of bad situations, treating clients with dignity and respect while working to obtain the best outcome for them with a high degree of skill and professionalism. There are many reasons why you can get arrested for a violent crime, but not all of them mean you should wind up in prison. Contact our experienced Fort Myers violent crime defense lawyers today for help with your case.
Assault and Battery in Fort Myers
Assault and battery are commonly linked together in the public imagination, but in reality, they are two separate crimes. Different elements must be proven by the state to prove an assault versus a battery, and the penalties for conviction can differ as well. The elements required to prove an assault in Florida are:
- Intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence.
- Apparent ability to carry out the threat.
- An act creating a well-founded fear of imminent violence in the victim.
Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in county jail. However, a charge of aggravated assault is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in a Florida prison. Conviction for aggravated assault requires proving:
- An assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.
- Or, assault with an intent to commit a felony.
Note that an assault does not require any violence or actual physical force to be used. The crime is completed by putting someone in “well-founded” fear of harm without actually touching them. If actual violence is used, the offense is battery instead of assault. The elements of battery under Florida law include:
- Actual and intentional touching or striking another person against their will.
- Or, intentionally causing bodily harm to another person.
Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable with up to a year in jail. Aggravated battery, on the other hand, is a third-degree felony. Aggravated battery or felony battery requires:
- In committing battery, intentionally or knowingly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
- Or, use of a deadly weapon.
Aggravated battery can also be charged if the battery victim is pregnant. Felony battery can be charged if the accused has been previously convicted of battery or committed a battery in furtherance of a riot.
Florida Homicide Statutes
Homicide is the unlawful killing of a human being and includes both murder and manslaughter. The distinctions between the two offenses are crucial as the penalties are vastly different. The elements of a murder charge that must be proven to convict are:
- Unlawful killing of a human being.
- When perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect death.
- Or, committed during the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, certain felonies like trafficking or arson.
Manslaughter, on the other hand, requires proving:
- Killing of a human being by act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another.
- Without lawful justification and not excusable homicide or murder.
Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Aggravated manslaughter, a first-degree felony punishable with up to three years in prison, can be charged if the victim was elderly, disabled, a minor, or a certain person such as a police officer, firefighter or paramedic.
First-degree murder requires premeditation or killing during the commission or attempt to commit an enumerated felony. If the killing was not premeditated but the state can prove a “depraved mind,” then murder in the second degree can be charged. First-degree murder is a capital felony, meaning the death penalty can be imposed. Life in prison is also a possibility for conviction on a murder charge.
Common Defenses to Violent Crimes in Fort Myers
Being arrested and charged with a violent crime is a serious matter, but defendants are not without hope or help. The state is required to prove every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and you have the benefit of an attorney working for you who can challenge the state’s evidence, introduce evidence of your good character, and raise doubts about the prosecution’s case. Also, several defenses may be available that would excuse or justify the alleged violent act or prove the defendant did not commit the alleged offense. Common defenses to violent crimes in Florida include:
- Self-Defense: Arguing that the actions were a necessary response to an immediate threat of harm.
- Defense of Others: Similar to self-defense, but in protection of another person.
- Lack of Intent: Demonstrating the absence of intent to commit the crime, particularly relevant in assault and battery cases.
- Alibi: Providing evidence that the accused was not present at the time and place of the alleged crime.
- Insanity: Claiming that the accused was not in a state to understand the nature or wrongfulness of their actions due to a mental disorder.
- Accidental Harm: Asserting that any harm caused was unintentional and occurred in the absence of negligence or illegal conduct.
Foley & Wilson Law Firm: Expertise in Fort Myers Violent Crime Defense
At Foley & Wilson Law Firm, we understand the complexities of violent crime charges in Florida. Our team, with over 45 years of experience in the criminal justice system, including as former prosecutors, offers unparalleled insight and expertise. We are committed to providing dignified, respectful, and skilled legal representation to those facing serious allegations of violent crimes. Our approach is tailored to each client, ensuring the most robust defense strategy is employed to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome. For more detailed information or to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, contact Foley & Wilson Law Firm in Fort Myers today.