Cases involving the use of force, the threat of force, and the use of weapons are referred to as violent crimes. In addition to sexual assault, which is discussed separately on our website, all of the following offenses fall within this category.
- Armed robbery. Florida Statutes Section 812.13 defines robbery as taking money or other property from the person or custody of another using force, violence, assault, or fear, with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the other person of the property. In Florida, robbery is further divided into several different offenses.
- Strong-arm robbery is a second-degree felony that entails the use or threat of force to unlawfully obtain another person’s property.
- Armed robbery is a first-degree felony involving the use of any dangerous weapon other than a firearm.
- Robbery with a firearm constitutes its own offense with mandatory prison time. Simply possessing a gun during a robbery carries a mandatory 10-year prison sentence. Discharging a firearm during a robbery carries a mandatory 20-year sentence. Seriously injuring or killing someone during a robbery results in a minimum 25-year sentence, and it can mean life in prison.
- Robbery by sudden snatching is a third-degree felony that includes purse-snatching and sudden snatching of other property without force.
- Home-invasion robbery as defined by Florida Statutes Section 812.135 takes place when the offender enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a robbery and does commit a robbery. If the offender carries a firearm or other deadly weapon during the robbery, the offense is considered a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison.
- Carjacking is the taking of an occupied motor vehicle by force. Under Florida Statutes Section 812.133, this is a first-degree felony, and if a firearm or other deadly weapon is used, the offense is punishable by life in prison.
- Arson. According to Florida Statutes Section 806.01, a person is guilty of arson if he or she damages a structure using fire or explosions and he or she either does so willfully and unlawfully or while committing a felony. A “structure” can be a house or an occupied building, but it can also be any kind of building, enclosed area with a roof, real property, tent, portable building, vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft. Depending on the circumstances, arson can be a first-degree or second-degree felony. Penalties will be greater if the arson is part of a hate crime.
- Battery and aggravated battery. Florida Statutes Section 784.03 defines battery as intentionally touching or striking a person against his or her will or intentionally harming a person. Battery is typically a first-degree misdemeanor, but it can be charged as a felony depending on the offender’s prior convictions. Additionally, Florida Statutes Section 784.041 classifies a battery as a third-degree felony if the victim suffers permanent disability, disfigurement, or great bodily harm. Under Florida Statutes Section 784.045, a battery is considered “aggravated” if the victim is a pregnant woman, if the offender used a deadly weapon, or if the offender intended to cause permanent disability, disfigurement, or serious bodily harm. An aggravated battery is a second-degree felony.
- Child abuse. Under Florida Statutes Section 827.03, it is a third-degree felony to intentionally inflict (or commit an act that could reasonably be expected to inflict) physical or mental injury upon a child. It is also a third-degree felony to actively encourage someone else to commit these acts. Child abuse is “aggravated” if an offender commits an aggravated battery on a child; if an offender willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or if an offender knowingly or willfully abuses a child, causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony.
- Gang violence. Under Florida Statutes Section 874.04, the penalty for any felony or misdemeanor can be enhanced if a court determines that the underlying crime had the purpose of benefiting, promoting, or furthering the interests of a criminal street gang. This means a second-degree misdemeanor can become a first-degree misdemeanor, and a felony charge can be upped from third-degree to second, second to first, and first to punishable by life.
- Hate crimes. The Florida Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines hate crimes as criminal acts (attempted or committed by any individual or group against another person or the property of another person or group) that in any way express hatred toward the victim in relation to his or her personal characteristics. Florida Statutes Section 775.085(1)(a) provides for enhanced penalties for hate crimes.
- Homicide. In Florida, homicide can be charged as manslaughter or as first, second, or third-degree murder. First-degree murder includes premeditated murder and felony murder. “Premeditated” means that the act was planned and executed according to plan. Felony murder
means that a life was lost during or as the result of the commission of a dangerous felony such as robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping, or sexual battery. Second-degree murder refers to deaths occurring as the result of a criminal act that was imminently dangerous to another person and committed with a depraved heart, without regard for human life. Manslaughter is an intentional act, such as driving under the influence, that results in a person’s death.
- Kidnapping. Florida Statutes Section 787.01 defines kidnapping as forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person without lawful authority against his or her will. To meet the definition, the act must further be committed with the intent to hold the victim for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage; to commit or facilitate the commission of a felony; to inflict bodily harm upon or terrorize the victim or another person; or to interfere with the performance of a governmental or political function. Kidnapping is a first-degree felony.
- Stalking. In the state of Florida, stalking is defined as willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person. Stalking involves a pattern of behavior that has no legitimate purpose and causes substantial emotional distress to a specific person. Many different behaviors can amount to stalking, including physically following another person; continuously calling, texting, e-mailing, or leaving letters for that person; leaving or sending the person gifts or other objects; or any pattern of unwanted behavior performed with malicious intent. Stalking is typically a first-degree misdemeanor. In certain circumstances, however, an offender can be charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony. Such circumstances include when the offender stalks a minor under the age of sixteen; when the offender makes a credible threat of bodily injury or death against the victim with the intent to cause the victim to reasonably fear for his or her safety; and when the stalking persists even though the victim has an injunction for protection or other court order prohibiting the offender from having contact with the victim.
Violent crimes are some of the most heinous crimes a person can commit. Judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials have no tolerance for violent crime offenders in society. As a result, when a person is arrested for committing violent acts against others, he or she is likely to face harsh prosecution. If you have been arrested for committing a violent crime, the best way for you to protect yourself from aggressive state or federal prosecutors is to hire an equally aggressive criminal defense attorney. If you have been charged with committing a violent crime, call Attorney Robert Foley to provide you with a free initial consultation.