Criminal Defense Lawyers in Duval County, Florida
An Overview of Florida Criminal Laws, Penalties, and Legal Defenses
Recent statistics indicate that the population of Florida in 2019 was 21.48 million people. As such, Florida is the second-most densely populated state in the country. The statistics do not account for the number of tourists who visit the state annually. In 2018, estimates suggest that nearly 127 million people visited Florida.
The crime rate is high in Florida, as one might expect considering the sheer volume of people found within the state’s borders every year. In 2019, estimates show that law enforcement agents arrested 700,000 people. Not every person went to court, however. Some 550,000 went to court to face criminal charges in 2019.
Duval County, Florida, suffers from a higher crime rate than other counties in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 970,672 people lived in Duval County in 2019. Law enforcement agents arrested 32,804 people for a variety of charges. The statistics also show that 31,284 adults were arrested, and 1,520 juveniles were arrested as well.
The Duval County arrest statistics are distilled even further. According to the latest information published by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement:
- 76 people were arrested for murder;
- 23 people were arrested for rape;
- 319 people were arrested for robbery;
- 1,034 people were arrested for aggravated assault;
- 584 people were arrested for burglary;
- 2,718 people were arrested for larceny (theft); and
- 364 people were arrested for auto theft.
The statistics maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement mirror those maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and do not take into account all of the investigations police conduct or all of the misdemeanor charges like driving under the influence or DUI arrests or arrests for simple assault, for example, law enforcement officers in Duval County made in 2019. None of the statistics include drug offenses, either. Thus, while statistics are important, they do not tell the whole story.
The Duval County state attorney’s office has its hands full. Rarely do they decline to prosecute cases. The county’s head prosecuting attorney and all of the assistant prosecutors fight tenaciously to win convictions in their cases. They should; they represent the state and try to exact retribution for the victims of crime.
A person charged with a crime in Duval County also deserves a worthy advocate fighting for him or her. If you have been arrested, summoned, or charged with a crime or are under investigation for a crime in Duval County, Florida, you need the expertise, knowledge, and skill of Musca Law’s Duval County Criminal Defense Attorneys. By calling 888-484-5057 today, you can speak with one of our firm’s tireless advocates who exhaust their knowledge and resources protecting their clients’ rights.
Misdemeanor charges in Duval County, Florida, can have an adverse effect on your life, even if you do not think they are serious. Charges like DUI, battery, or theft can prevent you from living where you want, getting a job that you desire, applying for loans, or obtaining housing. Additionally, a conviction for a misdemeanor could entail jail, probation, and fines.
The imposition of probation and fines, and of course incarceration, tend to send people spiraling downward financially. Getting out could be difficult. Engaging the right criminal defense attorney from Duval County, Florida, can help you stay out of the downward spiral people experience when they become trapped in the criminal justice system.
Winning an acquittal, pleading to reduced charges, or plea bargaining in exchange for a reduction in the sentence could be the best opportunity you have to escape the clutches of the Florida Court System. Retaining counsel to help you navigate the court system in Duval County can help you avoid the obvious consequences of running afoul of the criminal law in Florida, but can also guide you through the unexpected consequences of facing criminal charges in Duval County, Florida.
Severity of Crimes and Punishments in Florida
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes our rights to be free from cruel and unusual criminal punishments. The Founding Fathers were perhaps thinking in terms of stopping the tradition of tar and feather or placing someone in stocks in the town center so the criminal could be ridiculed. They might have been contemplating eliminating death by firing squad for stealing a trinket from another person. Today, the rights granted by the Eighth Amendment ensure that the penalty fits the crime. Accordingly, Florida divides criminal offenses into categories by severity.
The severity of the case primarily determines the possible range of offenses a judge could impose. Judges in Duval County, Florida, will also consider the sentencing guidelines when rendering a disposition on a case. The court will deliberate on the nature and severity of the offense, the victim’s injuries, along with the emotional and psychological impact of the crime on the victim, the defendant’s criminal history, along with the defendant’s social and medical histories as well. Finally, the judge must also obey statutory mandates which impose minimum-mandatory sentences.
Florida criminal charges are categorized as follows:
Level of Crime
Maximum Incarcerated Sentenced set by F.S. §775.082
Maximum Fine Allowed set by F.S. §775.083
County Jail for 60 Days
County Jail for no longer than One Year
State Prison for Five Years
State Prison for Fifteen Years
State Prison for Thirty Years
Life Without Parole
Most people would be surprised or shocked to learn that possessing a small amount of drugs could be a felony. A felony conviction can ruin a person’s life. A criminal conviction for a felony could force a person to lose his or her job, give up the right to vote, lose the right to possess a firearm, and lose your rights to child custody. Moreover, escaping the implications of felony charges cannot be accomplished by moving out of state — felony charges follow you wherever you live.
Florida law permits people convicted of low-level crimes to expunge or seal their records so that potential employers, educational institutions, or other entities that need to review your criminal background do not see the offense. People believe that future behavior can be predicted by examining the past. The notion is a hasty generalization and is not true in every respect. Florida gives some people the chance to eliminate some of their court involvement from public view, but the circumstances are very limited.
Given the horrible effects a criminal conviction in Duval County, Florida, could have on your life, you must strongly consider speaking with an experienced, dedicated, and accomplished Duval County criminal defense attorney who could provide you with an aggressive and vigorous defense to give you the best chance to avoid a conviction or avoid a harsh prison sentence.
Rely on the Experience of Musca Law
Musca Law’s attorneys have dedicated their careers to defending the rights of people who are in jeopardy because of a criminal charge. We are a full-service Florida criminal defense law firm. Unlike other Florida law firms, our lawyers have extensive experience defending all types of criminal charges in Duval County, and across the entire state. Our firm defends cases that include driving under the influence, boating under the influence, traffic offenses, and drug possession offenses, and also serious crimes such as sexual offenses, aggravated assaults, and drug trafficking offenses. We also provide representation for people who must face injunctions for protection.
Injunctions for protection against abuse and criminal charges frequently arise simultaneously. Therefore, we represent our clients in the criminal case as well as the civil injunction matter. We believe that a consolidated approach to defending our clients gives them the greatest opportunity for success — however, they wish to define it.
Duval County Controlled Substance Defense
Section 893.13 of the Florida Statutes establishes Florida’s prohibition against illicit drugs. The statute sets out its prohibition against the sale, trafficking, distribution, and possession of illicit drugs. Duval County law enforcement officers devote substantial resources to identifying drug dealers and trying to bring them to justice. They are not always successful. Many times, low-level drug distributors or people who possess a certain amount for their personal use get caught up in large scale drug operations and wind up getting charged with severe crimes that carry lengthy jail or prison sentences.
Drug crimes frequently prosecuted in Duval County include, but are not limited to:
- possession of narcotics like fentanyl, marijuana, heroin, morphine, cocaine, and crystal meth, in addition to other substances that are unlawful to possess without a prescription;
- possessing narcotics with the unlawful intent to distribute;
- narcotics trafficking;
- conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking; and
- possessing narcotics-related paraphernalia.
Nonviolent and minor drug offenses often do not result in a conviction or, if a conviction is warranted, incarceration. Judges are well aware that drug addiction is often described as a disease. Therefore, judges will send people to drug treatment, educational courses, impatient or outpatient treatment programs, and attend a drug treatment protocol in compliance with the terms of probation. Additionally, some courts have instituted a different type of criminal proceeding known as “Drug Courts,” which addresses the reason people turn to substances and address the underlying needs of the individual instead of incarcerating the person without treatment.
Minor drug offenses must be treated seriously by the person accused. Having the representation of an experienced Duval County criminal defense attorney assist you will provide you the necessary tools to avoid a conviction and have the opportunity to attend counseling to alleviate your addiction. Trying to fight minor drug charges alone could cause more harm than good.
Domestic Violence Accusations in Duval County, Florida
Domestic violence occurs all too often. The notion that one person could hit a family member or household member is completely out of touch with the way people should be treated in modern society. However, as time passes, we seem to be struggling with greater frustration, more anger and have less patience than ever before. It is easy to unleash your frustrations on a spouse, ex-spouse, blood relative, relative through marriage, people with whom you live as a family, or once lived together as a family. Florida law defines these relationships as either “family” or “household members,” provided that the people live in the same residential unit. Additionally, a couple who has a child together, regardless if they never lived together or were married, are considered family or household members under Florida law.
Florida Statutes §741.28 is Florida’s domestic violence statute. The law establishes certain crimes that occur between family or household members as domestic violence.
Those crimes are:
- Aggravated battery,
- Aggravated assault,
- False Imprisonment,
- Sexual Assault,
- Aggravated Stalking,
- Kidnapping, and
- Sexual Battery.
Domestic violence prosecutions are taken very seriously in Duval County, Florida. Judges will issue long prison sentences for domestic violence convictions. However, these same judges also hear cases in which people use the court system for revenge against other people. Therefore, you need to have the best attorney available to represent you in a Duval County, Florida, domestic violence case.
Sex Crimes in Duval County, Florida
Sex crimes in Florida are a general category of offenses that range from misdemeanors like stalking to capital felonies for rape involving children.
Other sex crimes charged in Duval County are:
- Statutory Rape;
- Human Trafficking;
- Refusing to Register as a Sex Offender;
- Solicitation of Prostitution;
- Possession or Distribution of Child Pornography;
- Commission of Lewd or Lascivious Acts;
- Sexual Assault; and
- Sexual Battery.
You deserve the best, and most aggressive defense possible if you are facing sex crimes in Duval County. The mere mention of sex crimes tends to repulse people and makes people very reluctant to examine the facts closely. However, if you have an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney from Duval County by your side, you will have an advocate who can persuade a jury to inspect and scrutinize the government’s case while bearing in mind the presumption that you are innocent.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Duval County
DUI charges in Duval County are common. At one time, many people have mistakenly sat behind the wheel of a car to drive home after having a couple of drinks. Little do they know that those couple of drinks elevate your blood level to the legal limit or beyond. Most people who are arrested for DUI believed that they could drive safely. Notwithstanding that belief, they were unable to control their car while driving and caught the attention of the police or caused an accident.
DUI charges are an anomaly in criminal law. Most crimes require proof of some intent that the person wanted to commit a crime. There is no intent element in a DUI prosecution. Consequently, the person’s innocent intent is irrelevant and is not a sound defense strategy. However, there are many other defenses available to a person charged with DUI in Duval County, which will allow the person to reduce their exposure to criminal penalties and limit the loss of license.
DUI charges in Duval County, Florida, also include very serious offenses that are considered felonies. Felony offenses for DUI include DUI with two or more convictions for DUI, DUI after causing damage to property or an injury to another, DUI causing serious bodily injury, or DUI manslaughter.
A blood-alcohol level of 0.08, either measured by blood or breath, is known as the legal limit. A person who provides a blood alcohol level test meeting or exceeding the legal limit while in control over a motor vehicle is guilty of DUI. Additionally, a person may be found guilty of DUI if he or she has control over a vehicle and has lost the ability to perform normal functions because of alcohol consumption, drug consumption, or a combination of drug and alcohol consumption.
Boating under the influence is also a common charge alleged in Duval County. BUI can be charged when a person is in control over a vessel while under the influence of alcohol with a blood-alcohol level that meets or exceeds the legal limit. Driving a boat or other vessel while intoxicated is dangerous, and therefore, Duval County judges treat these cases seriously and will punish offenders harshly.
Duval County Crimes Involving Theft
Florida Statutes §812.014 explains the crime of theft. Theft occurs when someone willfully or knowingly takes or procures another person’s property when yeah she has the criminal intent to deprive the owner of the use or benefit of that property.
The penalties for a conviction upon theft charges will vary depending on the value or replacement value of the stolen goods or items in addition to the individual’s record of convictions and victim input.
Theft offenses commonly charged in Duval County are:
- Petit Theft;
- Grand Theft;
- Burglary (See, F.S. §810.02)
- Robbery (See, F.S. §812.13); and
- Identity Theft (See, F.S. §817.568).
Crimes of Violence in Duval County
Violent crimes, like those referenced in the statistics listed above, violate the sanctity of people’s lives. Accordingly, law enforcement agents and state prosecutors, along with federal prosecutors, deploy substantial assets to investigate and arrest people accused of committing violent crimes. These offices will devote a substantial amount of resources to thoroughly investigate these crimes and build ironclad cases so that the accused could be found guilty after trial.
Violent crimes in Duval County include:
- Murder (F.S. §782.04);
- Aggravated Battery (F.S. §784.045);
- Attempted Murder (F.S. §782.051);
- Arson (F.S. §806.01);
- Assault and Battery (F.S. §784.011 and F.S. §784.03);
- Manslaughter (F.S. §782.07);
- Vehicular Manslaughter (F.S. §782.071);
- Robbery (F.S. §812.13); and
- Rape or Sexual Battery (F.S. § 794.011).
The penalties for these charges range from misdemeanor convictions for assault and battery to capital offenses and the death penalty for premeditated murder. Each person charged with these crimes has the absolute right to enjoy the presumption of innocence and compel the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Every person charged with a violent crime deserves the best legal counsel available in Duval County. Having aggressive and experienced defense counsel fight for you helps preserve your constitutional rights in the face of extraordinarily harsh prison sentences.
Duval County Cybercrimes
Some 20 years ago, a person could evade prosecution for cybercrimes because law enforcement did not have the tools to track down the perpetrators. The law enforcement officers have caught up with technology and are now able to prosecute Internet crimes. Internet-based crimes or cybercrimes involve criminal charges such as embezzlement, identity theft, or credit card theft. Additionally, sexually motivated crimes like prostitution, distribution of child pornography, or human trafficking, are concealed from the public eye through the use of Internet websites. Additionally, The Internet space known as the “dark web” is a veritable marketplace for the exchange of contraband such as narcotics, firearms, and explosives as well as human trafficking and other horrible offenses.
Duval County White-Collar Crimes
crime such as theft and embezzlement, when committed in the course of business, receive the moniker of white-collar crimes. Describing a crime as “white-collar” does nothing to diminish the severity of the crime and the potential penalty which the accused faces. White-collar crimes are typically perpetrated without using force. By contrast, theft crimes such as robbery and larceny, sometimes include the element of force. Therefore, offenses such as fraud, computer crimes, racketeering, exploitation of vulnerable populations, embezzlement, and conspiracy, are often described as white-collar crimes.
The potential penalties for white-collar crimes range in severity from misdemeanors for petit theft, to felonies depending on the severity of the underlying acts under Florida Statutes §775.0844.
Duval County Juvenile Justice
Juvenile justice is an area of tremendous growth and progress in the last five years. Scientific research has shown that a male’s brain does not fully develop until he enters his mid-20s. Therefore, he may not be emotionally or mentally capable of appreciating criminal acts fully at a younger age despite being physically mature by the time he is 19 or 20. It is important, therefore, for a person charged with a juvenile offense to receive the greatest chance of eliminating or reducing the possibility that the juvenile offense will affect his or her life as an adult. Some juveniles face punishment as an adult for violent offenses. The majority of juveniles charged in Duval County face misdemeanor charges and less serious felony offenses. Therefore, they could be placed on probation with the expectation that probation will reform the child. Unfortunately, there are instances when hey court determines that a juvenile should be detained. In those cases, the juvenile will be held in a juvenile detention facility.
If you have a child who is facing charges in juvenile court, we need to intervene in that child’s life as soon as possible. Not only will we provide an aggressive defense strategy, but we can also work with your child and the probation department to correct the child’s behavior with services and educational plans before he or she enters adulthood.
Duval County Protective Injunctions
Florida law recognizes five categories of protective injunctions. Under §784.0485 of the Florida Statutes, a judge has the discretion to issue protective injunctions to prevent:
- Dating Violence;
- Sexual Violence;
- Repeat Violence;
- Domestic Violence; and
The person seeking protection of the court through an injunction must complete a petition and file it with the court. The petitioner, or the person who is asking the court for protection, must explain the factual background that gives rise to the request for an injunction. Given the types of injunctions available to the petitioner, it is most likely that he or she will allege a crime in the factual presentation. If a judge allows a temporary order to issue, then you will need to appear before the court to defend the injunction request.
Injunctions for protection can have a tremendously adverse effect on your life. These are not insignificant legal matters. Instead, many of your rights are at stake. Therefore, you must have a Duval County criminal defense attorney who has the necessary skill and expertise to develop the effective case strategies you need for a successful defense.
The Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys with Musca Law are available 24/7 by calling 888-484-5057. They have the knowledge, experience, and track record of success you need to safeguard your valuable rights. Contact them today to launch a successful criminal defense in Duval County, Florida.