Violent Crime Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Very few criminal charges are more severe than those that deal with the commission of a violent crime. If you or someone that you love has been charged with a violent crime in the Fort Lauderdale area, your job, your personal life, and your freedom are all in jeopardy.
Here at Musca Law, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys understand that it isn’t just the truth that sets people free: it is also proof and witness statements. You cannot afford to be unprepared. You are going to need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who can appropriately handle your case. Don’t hesitate to contact our Fort Lauderdale office at (954) 302-5391 to speak with one or our highly-qualified criminal defense attorneys today.
A few of the kinds of violent crimes that we defend include but are not limited to the following.
If you have taken another life, you need to immediately retain the legal services of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
The illegal taking of human life is the single most heinous crime of which it is possible to be accused. Any alleged offender who is without adequate legal representation is going to be completely lost and in just about the worst position in which anyone could ever find themselves.
Here at the Fort Lauderdale offices of Musca Law, we are familiar with the trials and tribulations that are usually endured by people who are accused of homicide. Our criminal defense attorneys know that their clients who are in this situation are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. They also know that the state bears the burden of proof and proving murder, particularly first-degree murder, is difficult at the best of times. An experienced murder defense attorney will use this set-up to his advantage by applying a variety of legal strategies so that we can fully defend our client.
There are three different levels of homicide that are acknowledged in the state of Florida. The tactics and strategies applied by your criminal defense attorney will depend primarily on how the classification of the homicide of which you have been accused.
Degrees of Homicide
The most serious crimes of all are those that involve the arrest and prosecution of someone who is responsible for the death of another human being. Law enforcement bureaus commit their most skilled detectives and the most comprehensive resources to these cases. The state generally goes after these cases with a high degree of intensity.
The Fort Lauderdale homicide defense attorneys at Musca Law understand the gravity of these accusations and how crucial it is to have a fully prepared and airtight legal defense.
It is important to have a solid comprehension of the different classifications of homicide. Understanding the methods that are used to prove these crimes is crucial to identifying and recognizing helpful legal tactics that will allow your criminal defense attorney to raise the question of reasonable doubt in the courtroom.
Florida Statute § 782 defines homicide as the killing of one human being by another. The killing may be either unlawful or lawful. Law enforcement and state prosecutors will examine each instance of homicide prior to deciding if it fits into the first definition. If so, charges will be filed against the alleged offender.
The major homicide classifications include:
- First-Degree Murder: First-degree murder is the most formidable of all criminal charges. It requires a death that is deliberate and was executed with the malice of forethought. This death was planned. The charge might also be applied to any death that, while unintended, took place while the offender was engaged in carrying out another grievous crime like carjacking, child abuse, human trafficking, sexual battery, or robbery.
- Second-Degree Murder: Second-degree murder is the illegal taking of the life of a human being with absolutely no forethought. These are usually referred to as “crimes of passion.” Forethought and the intent to kill someone are not essential components of a second-degree murder case in the state of Florida. So for instance, if somebody shoots celebratory rounds at a party and one of those rounds hits someone and kills them, she or he could possibly be charged with murder in the second degree, even though there was quite clearly no plan or forethought to the action. The simple act of shooting off a firearm near or at a group of people might easily be deemed an act that displays a total disregard for the sanctity of human life.
- Third-Degree Murder: Third-degree murder is classified as a felony in the second degree. This is a more subdued variant of second-degree murder, wherein someone is unjustly killed, but the offender never had any intentions of causing the person’s demise. You may also be charged with third-degree murder if the death took place during the course of distributing controlled substances or when the controlled substances themselves are what caused the person’s death.
- Attempted Felony Murder: Any felonious action, either planned or followed through with, that could potentially have resulted in the death of someone else. The state is not required to prove that you were the offender. They just have to show that you endorsed or upheld the felony. You could also be charged with attempted felony murder if anyone sustains an injury during the commission of the felony.
- Manslaughter: Simply put, manslaughter is murder minus the nefarious intentions. It requires a death that arises from culpable negligence. In certain situations, this might be classified as a felony in the first degree in the event that it involves the death of an EMT, police officer, firefighter, paramedic, disabled person, elderly person or anyone under the age of 18.
- Vehicular Homicide: Vehicular homicide is the name given to the crime that has taken place when a person is reckless in the operation of an automobile, causing the untimely death of another human being. This offense grows exponentially more severe should the offender leave the scene of the accident.
- Death of an Unborn Child: Death of an unborn child is a crime that has been committed when the death of or injury to a pregnant woman causes her unborn child to die. In certain situations, someone whose actions caused the death of the fetus can be charged with manslaughter or murder in the first degree.
Separate laws also exist for crimes such as assisted self-murder, unnecessary murder to prevent an unlawful act, and vessel homicide.
Homicides that have been deemed lawful are either justified or excusable.
- Justified Homicide: Justified homicide is when a homicide is carried out as an act of self-defense against an assault in which deadly force was being used. This can happen if a death results from you resisting an attack or fighting back, if a death results from you protecting someone else (particularly if she or he is in a protected class of people), if someone attempted to kill you and you fought back, or if you killed a person who was trying to carry out a felonious act in your home.
- Excusable Homicide: Excusable homicide is when a homicide is carried out by a person who is legally insane to such a degree that she or he is incapable of comprehending the results of their behavior or the distinction between wrong and right. A homicide can also be classified as excusable if there were no lethal weapons or criminal intent if it took place under intense provocation from the victim and/or it did not happen in any fashion that would be considered cruel and unusual. Excusable homicide might also be proved if the fatality was caused by accident or misadventure while the defendant was practicing routine, normal caution and harboring no criminal intent.
These statements are able to be given as a defense even prior to charges being filed, and might even hinder the filing of additional charges. That is why it is crucial for alleged offenders to retain a respected criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, even if you have not actually been arrested yet.
If the state prosecutes a homicide, however, it is regarded as either manslaughter or murder. If that describes your situation, then it is the prosecutor who determines the classification of homicide with which you will be charged.
When the Florida Department of Corrections wanted to assess what the public’s understanding of intimate partner crimes was, citizens were surveyed on what their definition of “domestic violence” was. The single most popular answer was, “Any physical act of aggression by a man toward his wife or girlfriend.”
Sadly, this is an all too familiar sight. As a matter of fact, 78 percent of domestic violence cases involve accusations of simple assault and 77 percent of the alleged victims of domestic violence are women. Here at the Fort Lauderdale offices of Musca Law, however, we know that the state of Florida has a much wider definition of what constitutes domestic violence.
As outlined in Florida Statute 741.28, the crime of domestic violence is any “violent physical action” against another person who is either a member of the offender’s household or member of the offender’s family.
The “violent physical actions” that fall under the purview of domestic violence run the gamut from an assault, which according to Florida Statute 784.011, is an “intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence with the apparent ability to do so” to battery (described by Florida Statute 784.03 as “intentionally causing bodily harm, touching or striking another person against their will.” Also on the list of violent physical actions you will find sexual battery (outlined in Florida Statute 794), kidnapping (outlined in Florida Statute 787.01), false imprisonment or any other offense that causes any kind of physical harm to the victim.
In layman’s terms, the crime of domestic violence includes but is not limited to the following:
- Intimidating with the threat of bodily harm
- Slapping another person (open hand)
- Punching (closed fist)
- Hitting another person with an inanimate object
- Strangling or choking
- Rape or any other form of unwelcome sexual conduct
- Preventing someone from leaving a building, place, or area
- Stopping a person from using their cell phone to call for help
Ordinarily, the crime of domestic violence is not really about a single episode of loud fighting, screaming, wild accusations or other emotional communication. Ordinarily, the crime of domestic violence is viewed as part of a repeated pattern of behavior. That does not, however, mean that someone cannot be arrested for just one isolated display of violent behavior.
Admittedly, these offenses are horrible enough all on their own, but sentences are much harsher when the alleged offenses takes place between two members of the same family or two members of the same household.
In order to meet the requirements of being considered an act of domestic violence, the people involved must either be married to one another or formerly married to one another, persons who are currently residing together as a family or used to live together as a family, or two people who have had a child together whether or not they are now or ever have been married.
In the majority of cases (the exception being the cases involving people who have had a child together), the family or household members must be either currently residing with each other or have, at some previous time, resided under the same roof.
Along with the standard husband/wife ex-husband/ex-wife type of case, you can also be charged with domestic violence in the event that you are accused of committing assault or battery against your:
- Sister or brother
- Mom, dad, step-mom, step-dad
- Uncle or aunt
- Grandchild or grandparent
- Roommate or former roommate
- Girlfriend, boyfriend, fiance(e), or ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, ex-fiance(e)
If an offense does get charged as a domestic violence, the offender will be meted out penalties that are far more severe.
According to Florida Statute 784.041, the crime of domestic violence battery is upgraded to a felony in the event that the accused:
- Really and purposefully struck someone else against her or his will
- Induced serious physical harm, permanent injury or life-long disfigurement
Domestic violence is almost always an extremely emotionally-charged situation, and both the offender and the supposed victim, once things have calmed down, are oftentimes in absolute shock over the fact that the situation escalated as quickly and got as out of control as it did. More often than not, the person who reported the conflict is the person who ends up getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney to ask what they can do to get the situation cleared up.
While it is true that an alleged offender who has the backing and support of the person doing the reporting has much better odds of getting their charges reduced or even thrown out, it is not an absolute guarantee.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in the Fort Lauderdale area, we urge you to reach out to our professional legal team here at Musca Law and speak with one of our domestic violence attorneys as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact our Fort Lauderdale office at (954) 302-5391 to schedule a free initial case consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.