Criminal Defense Lawyers in Alachua County, Florida
An Overview of Florida Criminal Defense Laws, Penalties, and Defenses
Representation by a competent criminal defense lawyer for a person accused of a crime is the foundation of fair trial rights guaranteed to every person in the United States. Competent representation is one thing, but representation by a criminal defense lawyer who has decades of experience trying cases to juries in Florida in the state and federal criminal justice systems might make the difference between freedom and prison for a person facing criminal charges in Gainesville, Alachua County, and throughout the State of Florida.
A person who is facing criminal charges in Alachua County, Florida, has a lot to lose. Most people understand what is at stake, generally, when they get arrested. The average person knows that the accused, if convicted, could be sent to prison or jail, made to pay heavy fines, and remain under the supervision of the court while on probation after release from incarceration. Most people do not recognize the additional problems they might face if they are convicted of a crime, even a minor crime considered to be a misdemeanor. That is why taking a plea deal without first talking with a criminal defense lawyer in Alachua County who understands the legal ramifications of a conviction and the social ramifications of a conviction could severely hamper a person’s ability to live freely.
Plea bargains and negotiating a fair sentence with the prosecution is a useful tool to minimize a person’s exposure to the maximum jail sentence allowable under Florida law. However, a case must be thoroughly investigated before deciding that taking a plea would be the best option. Sometimes, holding the government to its obligation to prove the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury is the only way to achieve justice.
The right to have a jury decide one’s fate in the United States dates back nearly 400 years. Over that time, people accused of committing a crime enjoyed the right to have their charges decided by a jury of their peers as a means to protect the accused from overreaching by the government and arbitrary practices of law enforcement. Juries also protect the community’s values and give the accused additional protection against governmental wrongdoing. Juries are the final line of defense for a person charged with a crime. However, having merely a competent lawyer instead of an Alachua County, a criminal defense lawyer with the tremendous experience trying cases to juries successfully deprives the accused of the important role a jury plays.
The Alachua County criminal defense attorneys with Musca Law believe in the rights granted by the constitution and have dedicated their professional lives to ensuring that every person who comes to them for advice receives the best representation possible. Musca Law’s criminal defense lawyers have over 150 years of combined criminal trial experience, which they rely on to defend their clients’ charges aggressively.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Alachua County are here 24/7 to help you in your time of greatest need. Call Musca Law now at 888-484-5057 to talk with a dedicated, skilled, and highly-trained criminal justice advocate for Alachua County, Florida who will design a case strategy to expose the weaknesses in the government’s case and preserve the presumption of innocence.
Musca Law is a Full-Service Alachua County Criminal Defense Law Firm
While many law firms decide to only defend one type of crime, like DUI, for example, Musca Law also practices statewide. As a result, Musca Law’s Alachua County criminal defense lawyers have engendered a reputation for being intelligent, hardworking, and aggressive in all courts of Florida, including in Alachua County. By practicing across Florida successfully, Musca Law’s criminal defense attorneys’ hard work and dedication to their clients has won them the praise and admiration of judges and prosecutors across the state. This gives Musca Law’s clients a distinct advantage over other people represented by less-reputable law firms.
Musca Law opens its doors to all people who are in search of a criminal defense lawyer who can deliver justice. Musca Law’s Alachua County criminal defense lawyers believe that every person deserves high-quality representation. Therefore, Musca Law’s Alachua County criminal defense lawyers will take the cases that other firms turn down simply because the cause is unpopular, or the case is too tough. It is sad to say that some lawyers call themselves hardened trial lawyers even though they are afraid to go to trial on behalf of their clients unless the case is an obvious, not guilty verdict. Otherwise, the lawyer might look to plea bargain even if the accused does not want to accept responsibility.
Contact Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to discuss how Musca Law’s experienced, skilled, and reputable Alachua County criminal defense lawyers could best serve you and your family.
County Criminal Offenses in Alachua County, Florida (FL)
Alachua County judges take punishing criminal actions seriously because it is a complex legal matter. Judges must contemplate the severity of the crime for which the accused was convicted, the maximum penalty for that crime, and any minimum-mandatory sentences specified by statute. Additionally, the sentencing judge must consider the impact the crime had on the victim if there is one, physically, emotionally, and financially. The sentencing judge must also consider the particular attributes of the accused in sentencing. Some common attributes sentencing judges factor into sentencing are the offender’s background, criminal history and history of victimhood, education, employment status, and other factors when meting out punishment.
After examining the statute that creates the crime, a sentencing judge must understand that maximum sentence and minimum sentencings he or she must impose. The maximum punishments are listed in Chapter 775 of the Florida Statutes.
Most crimes in Florida fall into the categories listed below:
Category of Offense
Maximum Period of Incarceration
Maximum Allowable Fine
Sixty-Days in County Jail
One-Year in County Jail
Five-Year Prison Sentence
Fifteen-Year Prison Sentence
Thirty-Year Prison Sentence
Incarceration for Life without Parole
Additionally, sentencing judges must complete the sentencing scoresheet. The sentencing scoresheet is used statewide to aid judges in arriving at a just sentence. Moreover, Florida’s sentencing scoresheet creates uniformity among the state’s judges. Critically, the court has the discretion to apply reductions to the score for positive attributes to the accused, which could result in a shorter prisoner sentence. However, the judge could apply aggravating factors to the offender’s score, which would increase the maximum sentence the offender must serve.
There is always room for advocacy. A knowledgeable and savvy Alachua County criminal defense lawyer understands how to advocate for a client at sentencing. Making a persuasive argument to a judge and convincing the court to reduce the severity of any punishment after a conviction is an essential part of a criminal defense attorney’s obligation. Otherwise, the offender is solely at the mercy of a judge who might be vindictive and vengeful instead of dispassionate and merciful.
Criminal Offenses Often Sought in Alachua County, Florida
Defense of Controlled Substance Violations
Florida’s drug laws are some of the toughest in the nation. Chapter 893 of the Florida Statues lists the substances that are unlawful to possess in the state and breakdown illicit drugs by schedules. Schedule I lists the most dangerous narcotics, such as cocaine, heroin, opiates, among others. Schedules II through IV list the various controlled substances outlawed in Florida by decreasing severity, as well.
Section 893.13 of the Florida Statutes establishes certain drug crimes as well as the penalty for those crimes. Section 893.13 distinguishes between simple possession of narcotics, the sale or distribution of narcotics, and trafficking of narcotics. The section also sets forth the minimum-mandatory penalties associated with narcotics possession and distribution.
Musca Law’s Alachua County criminal defense lawyers have represented numerous people struggling with the scourge of addiction and facing charges such as:
- Simple possession of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, morphine, fentanyl, crystal meth, marijuana, PCP, psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”), prescription medications, and synthetic drugs;
- Possession of drugs or narcotics with the intent to sell, gift, or distribute;
- Narcotics trafficking, which is typically large quantities of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, or marijuana, but other drugs could also be subject to the trafficking laws;
- Conspiracy to violate the controlled substance act; and
- Drug paraphernalia.
Forceful advocacy is needed for people battling with drug addiction. Musca Law’s Alachua County criminal defense lawyers fight to protect their clients’ rights and also advocate for alternative sentencing structures such as:
- Drug Court,
- Drug counseling,
- Dual-Diagnosis treatment referrals (dual diagnosis is drug addiction combined with a mental illness). And
- Term of probation with conditions that provide support and assistance rather than incarceration without the benefit of immersive drug treatment.
Alachua County Domestic Violence Charges
Florida Statutes §741.28 defines domestic violence as a criminal act that could cause death or serious physical harm between two people who live together as a family, hold themselves out as a family, married, divorced, have a child in common but never lived together, or once lived together as a family. Specific acts of violence between people who are family or household members defined as domestic violence are false imprisonment, stalking, aggravating stalking, kidnapping, sexual battery, sexual assault, battery, aggravated assault, assault, and aggravated battery for example.
People charged with crimes constituting domestic violence could receive long prison terms, including minimum-mandatory sentences, probationary terms with orders to attend batterer’s counseling, orders to have no contact and stay away from the victim and the victim’s children (which could be the family of the accused), and orders to stay away from particular locations, such as the victim’s home, place of employment, or school. Moreover, a judge will order the offender to surrender all firearms and ammunition to the local law enforcement authorities.
Sex Crimes (Offenses) in Alachua County
Sex crimes are more pervasive than people might otherwise suspect. Many sex crimes lack any physical evidence because the victim delays reporting. A sex offense trial consequently becomes a contest of “he said, she said.” The jury will be tasked to decide the case after listening to testimony and determining the credibility of the witnesses. Although a victim of sexual abuse might have valid reasons to delay reporting, investigators assigned to investigate sex offenses rarely delve into why an alleged victim would not report the crime immediately. They act as though they do not want to uncover an ulterior motive like bias, money problems, or jealously which could cause an alleged victim to fabricate a report of a sexual offense.
Musca Law represents individuals charged with sex crimes such as:
- Committing a lewd or lascivious act;
- Human Trafficking;
- Refusing to Register as a Convicted Sex Offender;
- Solicitation of Prostitution;
- Sexual Assault;
- Sexual Battery;
- Prostitution; and
- Committing sexually-motivated crimes against children, including possessing, distributing, or creating child pornography.
DUI Charges in Alachua County, Florida
Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes is Florida’s DUI statute. Under §316.193, a person could be convicted of DUI by proof that the individual was in control over a motor vehicle while the person’s induvial faculties were impaired by alcohol. The statute provides for an alternate method of proof. Section 316.193 also allows the prosecution to prove that the person was in control of a vehicle and had a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.08, which is known as the legal limit.
A person convicted of a first-offense DUI in Florida could face up to six months in jail and pay a large fine. Additionally, the judge must order the offender to complete 50 community service hours, attend driving school, and install an interlocking device on the person’s car. Also, the offender’s license will be revoked. However, the penalties escalate proportionately to the severity of the crimes alleged. Although a standard DUI charge is a misdemeanor, Florida law recognizes certain DUI offenses as felonies, even for first-time offenders. Boating under the influence charges carries essentially the same penalties as a DUI conviction.
Musca Law’s Alachua County criminal defense lawyers have represented DUI clients facing charges such as:
- DUI manslaughter;
- DUI causing serious bodily injury;
- DUI causing property damage;
- DUI with an alcohol level of 0.15% or greater;
- DUI with a child under eighteen-years-of-age in the vehicle; and
- DUI with prior offenses.
Theft Crimes/White Collar Crimes/Internet Crimes in Alachua County
Theft crimes apply to a broad category of offenses that involve taking another person’s property with the intent to either keep it or impair the ability of the true owner to use the property. Section 812.014 of the Florida Statutes penalizes theft based on the value of the property stolen or, the amount of money taken. Other statutes like the robbery statute establish punishments based on the use of force and threat of injury or death. Typical crimes of theft involve:
- Burglary (See, F.S. §810.02);
- Robbery (See, F.S. §812.13);
- Grand Theft;
- Petit Theft;
- Embezzlement; and
- Identity Theft (See, F.S. §817.568).
Embezzlement, identity theft, insider stock trading, bribery, gambling, welfare fraud, and racketeering are traditionally described as “white-collar crimes.” The term “white collar” only implies that no physical forces were used to commit the crime. White-collar crimes tend to be sneakier and prey upon vulnerable people such as the elderly by using psychological tactics to commit the crime rather than brute force.
Cybercrimes run the gamut of criminal conduct. Drug dealing, prostitution, identity theft, fraud, child pornography offenses, credit card theft, credit card fraud, and other crimes can be committed through the use of the internet. Law enforcement efforts to prosecute offenders have caught up to the advances in technology. Police officers receive extensive training to investigate cybercrimes. A person charged with cybercrime in Alachua County must have a defense lawyer who understands the technology and has the resources to hire experts to counter the prosecution’s case.
Violent Crimes in Alachua County
Violent crimes carry some of the longest prison sentences authorized by Florida law. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors exhaust their resources to identify and prosecute violent offenders. Mistakes can be made in their haste to convict the violent offender.
Musca Law’s Alachua criminal defense attorneys represent individuals charged with:
- Murder (F.S. §782.04);
- Arson (F.S. §806.01);
- Robbery (F.S. §812.13);
- Attempted Murder (F.S. §782.051);
- Manslaughter (F.S. §782.07);
- Vehicular Manslaughter (F.S. §782.071);
- Rape or Sexual Battery (F.S. § 794.011);
- Aggravated Battery (F.S. §784.045); and
- Assault and Battery (F.S. §784.011 and F.S. §784.03).
People facing violent crimes need a lawyer with extensive experience to defend these charges successfully.
Juvenile Justice Court and Criminal Offenses
No one wants to see their child standing before a judge answering to charges. However, it does happen. If it does, the child needs an outstanding advocate, one who could prevent the worst-case scenario from occurring. Juvenile justice is advancing thanks to research that shows a child’s brain does not mature until their mid-20s. However, old habits of incarcerating incorrigible youth are hard to break. Musca Law’s Alachua County juvenile defense lawyers advocate for deferred sentences and alternatives to the traditional crime and punishment scheme to give young people a chance to have a future.
Protective Injunctions in Alachua County
Protective injunctions provide the alleged victim of a crime added assurance that they would be free from further violence or harassment. Interestingly, the alleged victim who petitions the court for a protective injunction must allege facts that amount to a crime in most instances. However, the petitioner has no obligation to pursue criminal charges except when alleging sexual abuse. That does not mean protective orders should not be taken seriously. They must. Otherwise, the person could face criminal charges and be sent to jail for violating a protective order. Therefore, mounting a strong defense to a petition for a protective order critical to preserving a person’s freedom.
Musca Law’s Alachua County criminal defense lawyers have experience defending their clients against petitions for protective orders such as:
- Domestic Violence;
- Sexual Violence;
- Dating Violence; and
- Repeat Violence.
Receiving a notice to appear in court to respond to a petition for a protective order must be regarded as a serious legal matter. Do not try to handle it personally. You might unknowingly give up certain rights and jeopardize your defenses.
Musca Law is Available 24/7 for You
Facing a criminal charge is an intimidating situation. Before you do anything, call the Gainesville criminal defense attorneys with Musca Law at 888-484-5057 and seek their advice. Do not speak to the police or try to handle the case on your own without calling our office. You and your family could rely on our expertise, resources, and skill to help you obtain justice.