Strategic Defense Against Serious Violent Crime Charges
Cases involving the use of force, the threat of force, and the use of weapons are referred to as violent crimes. If you’ve been charged with a violent crime, you likely already know that the stakes are high. That’s why you should work with an experienced criminal defense team like ours at Foley & Wilson Law Firm. Our two attorneys collaborate on all cases, giving clients the benefit of decades of combined experience.
Common Violent Crimes Charged In Florida
In addition to sexual assault, which is discussed separately on our website, all of the following offenses fall within this category.
Robbery: As outlined in Florida Statutes Section 812.13, this crime involves taking another person’s money or property using force or the threat of force, with the intent to deprive them of it. There are numerous subcategories of robbery, including:
- Strong-arm robbery, a second-degree felony
- Armed robbery, a first-degree felony
- Robbery with a firearm, a felony resulting in mandatory minimum prison sentences of 10 years to life, depending on if/how the firearm was used and whether the victim was physically harmed or killed
- Home-invasion robbery, which becomes a first-degree felony if the offender carries a gun or other deadly weapon
- Carjacking, a first-degree felony that can result in life imprisonment if the offender uses a gun or other deadly weapon
Arson: The willful and unlawful damaging or destruction of a structure by using fire or explosions (Florida Statutes Section 806.01). Arson charges also apply if this damage/destruction occurs during the commission of a felony. The term structure refers to a wide variety of buildings and enclosures, both permanent and portable, as well as many types of vehicles. It can be charged as a second-degree or first-degree felony.
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. Can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on whether victim suffered great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement and whether the offender had prior convictions.
Aggravated battery: Same as battery but with an aggravating factor. This could be that the offender intended to cause serious harm, disability or disfigurement, if a deadly weapon was used or if the victim was a pregnant woman. It is a second-degree felony as defined Under Florida Statutes Section 784.045.
Child abuse: Charged as a third-degree felony, child abuse involves the intentional infliction of harm on a child (physical or mental) or engaging in an act that could be reasonably expected to result in a child’s harm. Encouraging someone else to commit such acts is also considered child abuse and is charged in the same manner (Florida Statutes Section 827.03).
Aggravated child abuse: The above offense becomes a first-degree felony if the offender perpetrates an aggravated battery on the child. It is also aggravated if the offender willfully/unlawfully encages a child or maliciously punishes/tortures a child.
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: The most basic definition of homicide is taking or ending another human’s life. The act is charged differently depending on factors like intent and premeditation. Homicide is broken down into several categories:
- Manslaughter: Committing an intentional act that results in a person’s death, even though the death was unintentional. A drunk driving accident is a common example. It is a second-degree felony.
- Third-degree murder: Unintentionally killing someone while committing a different non-violent felony. It is a second-degree felony punishable by 10-15 years in prison.
- Second-degree murder (depraved mind): Killing someone without premeditation while committing an act that shows no regard for human life. Prosecutors do not need to prove intent or premeditation. It is a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum of 16.75 years in prison.
- First-degree murder: There are two definitions. The first is killing someone intentionally and with premeditation (planning). The second is killing someone while committing a violent felony (or supplying someone with drugs who later dies because of those drugs). First-degree murder can result in a sentence of death or life without parole.
Kidnapping: Under Florida Statutes Section 787.01, kidnapping involves unlawfully abducting, confining or imprisoning someone against their will through the use of force or threat. The act must also be committed with the intent of:
- Interfering with the performance of a political or government function
- Holding the victim for ransom
- Holding the victim hostage or using them as a shield
- Committing or facilitating a felony
- Inflicting bodily harm
- Terrorizing the victim or another person
It is considered 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.
Seek Legal Help Immediately When Charged With A Violent Crime
Violent crimes are considered the most heinous crimes a person can commit. When a person is arrested for committing violent acts against others, they are likely to face harsh prosecution.
If you have been arrested for committing a violent crime in Florida, contact our attorneys at Foley & Wilson Law Firm right away to discuss your options in a free consultation. Just call 239-984-9115 or reach out online. We have offices in Fort Myers and Naples, and we serve clients throughout Lee and Collier counties.