Criminal Defense Lawyers in Highlands County, Florida
How to Beat a Florida Criminal Charge
Prosecutors across Florida, including Highlands County, view it as their job to keep the public safe from criminal offenders. Even suspects facing accusations of minor drug charges will often find that the state will take an aggressive approach to prosecuting that crime. If you are facing any criminal charges in Highlands County, Florida, it is vital to your future that you understand the gravity of the situation.
While facing criminal charges can feel lonely, frightening, and frustrating, you do not have to face those charges alone. The state has a lot of resources at its disposal, which prosecutors can use in their efforts to convict suspects. Finding a Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorney will help to ensure that you are facing those charges on equal ground. Your attorney will help you develop a strategy to defend against the charges filed against you.
Not only will a criminal conviction potentially result in prison time and other serious consequences, but the record created by those convictions can impact a person's professional life and personal life long after the other terms of the sentence are complete. Even in the case of misdemeanors, there is a possibility that you will face jail time. For individuals facing felony charges, sentencing can potentially lead to decades behind bars, and in Florida, for the most severe offenses, life-sentencing or even the death penalty are on the table. No one should face such extreme consequences on their own. The law states that you are innocent until proven guilty. It is likely that there are defenses that you may use in your case. An experienced Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorney will be able to analyze the specific facts of your case to determine which defenses are best suited in your individual situation.
Categorizing Crimes in Highlands County, Florida
In Florida, the criminal code divides crimes into felonies and misdemeanors and then breaks those categories down into multiple degrees based on the perceived severity of the crime. Sentencing guidelines in Highlands County, Florida, start at 60 days and, in the most serious cases, result in the death penalty. The code provides sentences anywhere within that range. There are, of course, minor offenses that will not result in jail time. It is important to remember that some other criminal offenses may have mandatory minimum sentences. In the event that you are convicted of a crime that has a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge cannot issue a more lenient sentence. Although some crimes may fall into the same category, they may still include very different penalties depending on whether the court finds that there are aggravating factors or mitigating factors. The following chart details the various penalties associated with crimes in Highlands County, Florida:
Maximum Incarceration Periods
Maximum Monetary Penalties
Jail Term of 60 Days
Jail Term of One Year
Prison Sentence of Five Years
Prison Sentence of 15 Years
Prison Sentence of 30 Years
Life in Prison without Parole
In Florida, judges will use what is referred to as a Sentencing Scoresheet to guide the terms of a person's sentence. The Sentencing Scoresheet exists in order to create some level of fairness throughout the state of Florida. Defendants who are facing similar charges in different counties within the state should also face similar consequences. Some charges will come with minimum mandatory sentences, and other times, the judges will have more discretion when they impose penalties on the defendant. The system creates some continuity while still allowing judges to weigh certain case-specific facts that could warrant a more severe or a more lenient sentence. Without some level of continuity, convictions could range a great deal based on the personalities or even the moods of the different presiding judges throughout Florida.
Your attorney will work with you to determine whether, in your case, it is possible to fight to have the charges dismissed, to reduce the charges, or to sway the judge in an effort to obtain a more lenient sentence within the judge's control. Oftentimes, attorneys will negotiate with prosecutors in an effort to reduce the charges and therefore reduce the penalties that you may face based on the guidelines provided and the Scoresheet. The best option for defending against the charges you are facing will depend heavily on case-specific facts; for this reason, you should contact a Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to start building your defense strategy.
Common Criminal Charges Files in Highlands County, Florida
Drug-Related Offenses in Highlands County, Florida
Defendants in Highlands County need to understand that prosecutors in Florida pursue even minor drug-related crimes aggressively. The sentencing terms that a defendant may face are sometimes surprising and frightening. Defendants suspected of minor drug-related offenses are often addicted, and might engage in minor drug dealings in an effort to fund their own drug use. When prosecutors seek prison terms as penalties for those defendants, the individuals who are suffering from addiction-related diseases will not get the help and treatment that they need. At Musca Law, our experienced criminal defense attorneys understand how important it is to find alternative sentencing terms for our clients. We work to get clients into treatment programs that can help them move forward with their lives in ways they would not be able to if they were simply incarcerated.
Some drug-related offenses in Highlands County, Florida, come with mandatory minimum terms. Florida Statutes Chapter 893 provides the legal coding for drug offenses and related penalties.
There are alternative sentencing terms that the attorneys at Musca Law frequently attempt to arrange for our clients. The following are often preferable to prison sentences:
- Drug counseling (in-patient or out-patient, depending on your case)
- Drug court
- Placement in a dual diagnosis program
- Detoxification and addiction treatment
Speak to a Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorney to learn whether you might qualify for an alternative sentence that focuses on rehabilitation.
The following drug-related charges are just some of the criminal offenses that Musca Law's dedicated Highland County criminal defense attorneys defend our clients against:
- · Drug trafficking
- · Conspiracy
- · Possession of cocaine, heroin, meth, opioids, stimulants, and fentanyl, and other controlled substances
- · Distribution and possession of drugs
- · Possession with intent to sell, distribute, or gift
Highlands County, Florida: Charges Related to Domestic Violence
Many different charges fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. When a suspect is accused of domestic violence, that accusation immediately obligates the police to arrest the alleged abuser. Florida law is designed to protect alleged victims even when doing so requires drastic actions to be taken against a suspect who has not yet been proven guilty. Sadly, in many situations, highly contested civil court matters, especially in domestic relations, can result in one person falsely accusing another of domestic violence. This frequently occurs during divorces and when parents are engaged in custody battles. Sometimes, allegations are exaggerated, and other times the alleged victim will have completely fabricated their accusations. It is also important to remember that domestic violence-related charges are specifically those pertaining to violent crimes committed between parties who are part of a qualifying relationship. Florida defines those relationships in Section 741.28 of the Florida Statutes. In general, the parties must share a child or children, be a parent and a child, siblings, have shared a residence in the past as a family, or currently share a residence as a family. If no domestic relationship exists, the charges cannot include domestic violence.
Many domestic violence-related charges will include a mandatory minimum sentence. If you are facing domestic violence-related charges, contact a Highlands County domestic violence defense attorney today.
Highlands County, Florida: Sex-Related Crimes
Sex-related criminal prosecutions are complicated matters. If you are facing domestic violence charges in Highlands County, Florida, you will require an experienced defense attorney. Defending against sex-related crime allegations is challenging, and even individuals who know that the allegations are false should never take the matter lightly. A conviction for sex-related crimes leads to lasting consequences long after any prison term or fines have been completed and paid. One of the many penalties is the requirement to be listed on the state sex offender registry. This easily searchable registry can lead to difficulties with personal and professional relationships and many other aspects of a person's life.
At Musca law, our Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorneys regularly represent defendants facing the following charges:
- Sexual battery
- Sexual assault
- Lewd or lascivious acts
- Human trafficking
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Possession of child pornography
- Violations of sex offender registration
Highlands County, Florida: DUI Related Crimes
DUI's are some of the most common criminal charges filed in Florida. Most of these offenses are categorized as misdemeanors, but in serious cases, DUI related offenses can be severe felonies. In the worst-case scenarios, prison terms can include decades behind bars. Even once a prison sentence or jail term is completed, the consequences of a DUI can continue to impact a person's life. The requirement to install an ignition interlock device in a person's car, the impoundment of a vehicle, the loss of a driver's license and other related penalties are likely.
The following are DUI related offenses which the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law regularly defend our clients against:
- Property damage DUI
- Commercial vehicle DUI
- Aggravated DUI
- Serious bodily injury DUI
- DUI manslaughter
- Hit-and-run DUI/failure to render aid DUI
Highlands County, Florida: Theft-Related Crimes
A variety of charges fall into the category of theft crimes. In general theft-related offenses include one person taking property that belongs to another person with the intent to deprive the other person of his or her property. The facts surrounding theft-related offenses can lead to a wide range of potential sentences. Florida Statutes §812.014 defines the various theft-related crimes in the state.
Musca Law defends clients facing charges for the following theft crimes:
- Petit Theft
- Grand theft
- Identify theft (See, F.S.§817.568)
- Robbery (See, F.S. §812.13)
- Burglary (See, F.S.§810.02)
Highlands County, Florida: Violent Crimes
Some of the most serious charges a person can face include allegations of violent crimes. The Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law regularly defend clients facing the following charges:
- Manslaughter (F.S. §782.07)
- Robbery (F.S. §812.13)
- Aggravated Battery (F.S. §784.045)
- Vehicular Manslaughter (F.S. §782.071)
- Murder (F.S. §782.04)
- Attempted Murder (F.S. §782.051)
- Rape/Sexual Battery (F.S. § 794.011)
- Arson (F.S. §806.01)
- Assault and Battery (F.S. §784.011, See also F.S. §784.03)
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is extremely important when facing allegations of violent crimes in Highlands County, Florida. Even in the most serious situations, there are likely defenses that can be applied to your case. Some of the defenses frequently used by our attorneys include third-party culprit, self-defense, or the defense of another person. There are other possibilities that might be more relevant to your individual case. When it comes to allegations regarding violent crimes, there is a lot at stake for the defendant. Convictions can result in long prison terms, life sentences, and even capital punishment.
Highlands County, Florida: White-Collar Crimes and Cybercrime
When charges involve white-collar crimes, the defendant typically is accused of exerting influence in order to carry out a criminal pursuit. This differs from violent crimes in which the defendant may be accused of using physical force. Some white-collar crimes include perjury, racketeering, embezzlement, and identity theft.
Cybercrimes are also often considered a variety of white-collar crimes. In the case of cybercrimes, defendants are alleged to have used the Internet to carry out various criminal activity including the sale of drugs, child pornography-related charges, organization of prostitution rings, and the solicitation of children for sexual purposes.
White-collar and cybercrimes typically involve highly technical aspects, and therefore, defendants facing such allegations will need to hire attorneys who understand the nature of these sophisticated crimes.
Highlands County, Florida: Juvenile Defendants
At Musca Law, our attorneys understand that the incarceration of juvenile offenders does nothing to rehabilitate and prevent recidivism among young individuals. Many juvenile offenders sent to serve terms in detention centers end up involved in further criminal activities when they reach adulthood. Modern understandings of the maturity of the human brain indicate that people do not reach full maturity until they are in their mid-20s. Research on brain development has helped to change the attitude toward the criminal justice system. At Musca Law, our attorneys work to keep juvenile defendants out of detention centers whenever possible. There are other options, including treatment programs, that may apply to many juvenile defendants.
Highlands County, Florida: Protective Injunctions
Protective injunctions serve as a way to protect an alleged victim from violence. When a person seeks a protective injunction against an alleged abuser, the process is handled by the civil court. However, the proceedings often overlap with criminal charges. It should be noted that the person seeking the injunction does not have to be cooperating with the police in any form of a criminal investigation related to the charges in order to seek and obtain that protective injunction. The person who files a petition for a protective injunction will be referred to as the petitioner. The person against whom the petitioner seeks that protection is referred to as the respondent. Temporary injunctions are often entered before the respondent is even aware of any proceedings. The Sheriff will then notify and serve the respondent with the petition and the date and time for a final hearing at which a judge will decide whether or not to enter a permanent injunction.
Given the fact that the final hearing date must be set for no more than 15 days following the date on which the temporary injunction was first sought or entered, once the respondent receives notice of the pending injunction, he or she should immediately contact an attorney. In many cases, attorneys will seek an extension in order to provide enough time to develop a strong defense against the allegations. If you received notice of a temporary injunction, you must immediately comply with the terms stated within the order. Not all respondents facing protective injunctions will also face criminal charges at the same time. Even if you are not facing criminal charges for any of the allegations made by the petitioner, a violation of a protective injunction can result in criminal charges.
Although injunction hearings are held in civil court, they are closely tied to criminal matters. Hiring an experienced Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorney will help you face that hearing and understand your rights, and how to avoid placing yourself in further jeopardy. For instance, you have a constitutional right not to incriminate yourself. Choosing to testify at a protective injunction hearing as the respondent could result and a forfeiting of that constitutional right. There may be cases where it might make sense strategically for the respondent to testify. Such determinations should only be made carefully and with the help of an experienced Highlands County, Florida criminal defense attorney.
Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Musca Law Today for Your Free Case Review
At Musca Law, our Highlands County, Florida, criminal defense attorneys believe that everyone deserves the right to a powerful and dedicated legal advocate. Call (888) 484-5057 to speak to one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys today.