Violent Crimes

Violent crimes are acts that cause bodily injury or death to another person or persons.

Motivated by increasing pressure to make neighborhoods safer, law enforcement and prosecutors are eager to charge suspects with violent crimes – even when they may not have all the proper evidence to substantiate the case.

The Miami criminal defense attorneys Jacobs Keeley Trial Lawyers are committed to offering an aggressive defense for those accused of violent crime in South Florida. With extensive prior experience as former prosecutors for the State Attorney’s Office in Miami-Dade County, our experienced trial lawyers have a thorough knowledge of how these cases are structured. We also know how to weaken them.

Some of the violent crime cases with which we have extensive experience include:

  • Capital murder
  • Homicide
  • Rape/Sexual Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Armed Robbery
  • Domestic Violence
  • Human Trafficking

While each of these crimes carry severe penalties, including the possibility of decades behind bars, early involvement of solid legal defense counsel can minimize the damage. Because violent crimes tend to result in the longest prison sentences, it’s imperative to talk immediately with an experienced defense lawyer.

Florida Law and Violent Crime

Violent crimes can be prosecuted at either the federal or state level, depending on the underlying circumstances.

Generally, though, most violent crimes committed in Florida are tried in state court. Although some violent crimes can result in misdemeanor charges (simple assault and some domestic violence cases), even those carry the possibility of anywhere from two months to one year in jail.

However, the majority of violent crimes are felonies. The degree of felony and correlating penalty will depend on the severity of the offense.

Florida Statute 775.082 spells out sentencing structures for most crimes. Those include:

Second-Degree Misdemeanor
  • Penalty: Up to 60 days in jail
  • Examples: Simple assault, harassing phone calls
First-Degree Misdemeanor
  • Penalty: Up to 1 year in jail
  • Examples: Simple battery, domestic violence/spousal abuse
Third-Degree Felony
  • Penalty: Up to 5 years in prison, fine up to $5,000, possible restitution to victim
  • Examples: Battery with prior conviction, domestic battery with prior conviction
Second-Degree Felony
  • Penalty: Up to 15 years in prison, fine up to $10,000 in fines, possible victim restitution
  • Examples: Aggravated battery, robbery, sexual assault
First-Degree Felony
  • Penalty: Up to 30 years in prison, fine up to $10,000, possible victim restitution
  • Examples: Aggravated battery, sexual battery, arson, kidnapping, homicide, armed robbery, human trafficking
Life Felony
  • Penalty: 40 years to life in prison, fine up to $15,000, possible victim restitution
  • Examples: First-degree homicide, kidnapping of a child under 13 to commit abuse, sexual battery or exploitation
Capital Felony
  • Penalty: Punishable by death or life in prison with no possibility of parole
  • Examples: First-degree homicide, capital sexual battery (by a person over 18 on a person under 12)
Defenses to Violent Crime Charges in Florida

Often, when somebody has been accused of a serious crime in South Florida, there are a number of ways an experienced defense lawyer can work to your advantage. We can help identify mitigating factors that could result in a reduction or possibly even a dismissal of charges. Failure to seek immediate defense counsel could result in long-term repercussions.

Some possible defense theories we may employ in your case include:

  • Self Defense. A person is permitted to defend themselves with deadly force against someone who attacks them if there exists a reasonable belief the person’s conduct was likely to cause serious bodily injury or death. Non-deadly force may be used if there is a reasonable belief it was necessary to defend against violent action or the threat of violent action.
  • Defense of others. In some cases, the law allows deadly force if there was a reasonable belief of that serious bodily injury or death was about to immediately befall a third-party as a result of an attack.
  • Defense of property. This may be applicable if you have reason to believe the other person was committing or about to commit damage to your property. This is mostly used in cases where an intruder unlawfully entered your home or residence.

There are a lot of situations in which your alleged actions won’t fall under these categories. In those cases, our strategy instead focuses on mitigating factors. Those might include:

  • Suppression of evidence. This can be an effective tool to deprive prosecutors of key evidence against you. A motion to suppress may be used when evidence is obtained improperly. For example, a suspect who is questioned before his Miranda rights are read to him may have grounds to have those statements suppressed. An illegal search of one’s vehicle or property may result in the suppression of any evidence obtained therein (“Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” doctrine).
  • Witness credibility. Prosecutors often rely heavily on eye witnesses to violent crimes, despite the fact that they are notoriously unreliable. It is not always a matter of dishonesty. Victims are often traumatized. They may have been impaired. Their memory is not always accurate. The American Bar Association reports that of the 21 exonerations in 2011 aided by the Innocence Network, 19 involved erroneous eye witness testimony. Witness accounts may also be swayed by improper law enforcement procedure. Such statements and testimony should always be carefully scrutinized by a defense attorney.
  • Viability of evidence. Whether it’s ballistic analysis, DNA testing, fingerprinting, video surveillance, audio files, computer hard drive data or medical records, a good defense lawyer always questions the viability of evidence against a client. Many times, expert witnesses are required to help overcome the government’s assertions of accuracy and assumptions of guilt based on this type of evidence.

Contact the Miami Criminal Defense Attorneys at Jacobs Keeley Trial Lawyers for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

Call us at (305) 358-7991.

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