Criminal Defense Lawyers in Leon County, Florida
Florida Criminal Defense Overview, Laws, Penalties, and Defenses
Leon County, Florida has a population of nearly 300,000, a medium-sized community that welcomes college students, visitors, and tourists each year. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 7,382 people were arrested in Leon County, Florida in 2019, which was down from a total of 8,601 arrests in 2018. Most criminal matters in Leon County involve theft, but a substantial portion of criminal matters involve violent crimes, many of which are felonies under Florida law. If you are facing criminal charges in Leon County, you have a tough fight against zealous prosecutors. However, you can have an even stronger advocate on your side by finding a superior Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyer to represent you in the courtroom.
The Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law understand what is on the line when facing criminal charges. The consequences of being convicted of a crime – even a minor misdemeanor – are significant and can by life-changing. When facing criminal charges in Leon County, you need a lawyer with a reputation for success in the courtroom to represent your legal rights fullest extent possible. Even seemingly minor crimes, such as possession of a small amount of marijuana, can be devastating to a person’s reputation, career, and livelihood. As such, do not settle for any lawyer to get the job done. At Musca Law, our team of Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyers are ready to protect your rights. To speak with a member of our legal team about your criminal matter, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.
Misdemeanors and Felonies in Leon County – Understanding the Different Levels of Crimes
Criminal charges (aside from local traffic citations) are classified as misdemeanors and felonies per Florida law. Regardless of where a person is charged with a crime in the state of Florida, the governing statute will be the same. However, even if the same criminal laws apply across the state, it is not uncommon for certain jurisdictions to take some crimes more seriously than another jurisdiction would. Therefore, a person convicted of a low-level misdemeanor in one jurisdiction may avoid jail time while a person in a different jurisdiction convicted of the same crime may face jail time. In Leon County, defendants charged with crimes should assume that prosecutors will be aggressive in seeking the maximum penalty.
In Florida, misdemeanors and felonies are categorized by degrees and numbers, with the lower number indicating the crime is more serious. Maximum jail sentences are governed by Florida Statute § 775.082, and maximum monetary fines are governed by Florida Statute § 775.083. Florida law classifies all levels of misdemeanors and felonies as follows:
- Unclassified Misdemeanor – This level of crime applies to lower-level driving under the influence (DUI) charges and the punishment will vary from a maximum of six months to one year in jail and a maximum monetary fine of between $1,000 and $5,000.
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor – This level of crime carries a maximum jail sentence of six months and a maximum monetary fine of $500.
- First-Degree Misdemeanor – This level of crime carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum monetary fine of $1,000.
- Third-Degree Felony – This level of crime carries a maximum jail sentence of five years and a maximum monetary fine of $5,000.
- Second-Degree Felony – This level of crime carries a maximum jail sentence of fifteen years and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony – This level of crime carries a maximum jail sentence of thirty years and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000.
- Life Felony – This level of crime carries a maximum jail sentence of life and a maximum monetary fine of $15,000.
- Capital Felony – This level of crime carries a maximum penalty of death.
Many criminal proceedings involve multiple criminal charges. As such, a defendant in Leon County could potentially face multiple misdemeanor and/or felony charges. Being charged with multiple criminal offenses is a way for prosecutors to “cover all tracks” and ensure they are alleging all potential crimes that could have been committed. Because many defendants face multiple criminal charges that do not always fit the alleged conduct, a qualified Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyer will immediately seek to dismiss any charges that are not supported by evidence.
Facing the Long-Term Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Leon County, Florida
Avoiding jail time and the imposition of thousands of dollars in fines is certainly a positive result to a criminal matter. However, even when avoiding jail time and fines, a convicted person is still going to face a long list of consequences, some of which include the following:
- Loss of some constitutional rights (such as being precluded from owning or possessing a firearm as a convicted felon);
- A blemished public record;
- The requirement to complete community service hours;
- The requirement to underdo counseling or treatment for mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues;
- The requirement to attend educational courses;
- The requirement to submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing; and
- Difficulty obtaining employment, difficulty renting a home, and difficulty obtaining credit, all matters that are negatively affected by a having a criminal record.
It is important to remember that the above-listed consequences may be either in addition to jail time and fines or in lieu of jail time and fines when a criminal matter cannot be dismissed. As such, to avoid the harshest of consequences, anyone facing criminal charges in Leon County should seek the advice of a Leon County Criminal Defense lawyer right away.
At Musca Law, We Represent Clients Charged with Any Crime in Leon County, Florida
Leon County is home to many lawyers who routinely handle criminal matters. However, there are few firms that can handle ALL types of criminal matters ranging from low-level misdemeanors to capital felonies. Our Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyers represent clients charged with a variety of criminal offenses that include the following:
- Drug Crimes;
- Domestic Violence Crimes;
- Sex Crimes;
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Crimes;
- Theft Crimes;
- Violent Crimes;
- Internet Crimes;
- White-Collar Crimes;
- Juvenile Crimes; and
- Protective Injunctions/Restraining Orders.
If you are facing criminal charges that you do not believe fall into any of the above-listed categories, contact Musca Law to see how we can help you. Because of our extensive experience handling a variety of criminal matters in Leon County, we have likely helped other clients who have faced the same criminal charges you are currently facing.
Understanding Criminal Defense Practice Areas in Leon County, Florida
Drug Crimes in Leon County, Florida (F.S. § 893.13)
Drug crimes are commonly charged in Leon County, and while many individuals face misdemeanor drug charges, some face very serious felonies that could land them in jail for many decades. Examples of drug crimes Musca Law handles in Leon County include, among others, the following:
- Possession of Drugs;
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia;
- Possession of Drugs with Intent to Distribute;
- Drug Trafficking (within the state of Florida or beyond state lines); and
- Conspiracy to Commit Drug Crimes.
Although most drug crimes in Leon County are governed by Florida statutes, some drug crimes are a matter of federal law. Any crime that extends beyond the state of Florida may implicate federal law. Drug trafficking, for example, may involve transporting drugs from Florida to another state. In doing so, a person may subject him or herself to federal jurisdiction. The Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law are well-versed in handling drug cases at both the state and federal level.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Leon County, Florida (F.S. § 741.28)
Allegations of domestic violence in Leon County are taken very seriously. Being convicted of a crime of domestic violence can be an almost certain jail sentence for some defendants. Per Florida law, “domestic violence” is “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” Family or household members are considered:
former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.”
Although allegations of domestic violence should be taken seriously, no defendant should be presumed guilty, especially when allegations lack concrete evidence. Because of the serious nature of domestic violence crimes in Leon County, an accused person must have a skilled lawyer handling the matter from start to finish.
Sex Crimes in Leon County, Florida
Sex crimes are some of the most serious crimes a person can face under Florida law. Examples of sex crimes we handle at Musca Law include the following:
- Attempted Rape;
- Statutory Rape;
- Solicitation of Prostitution;
- Human Trafficking;
- Lewd and Lascivious Acts;
- Sex-Related Crimes Involving a Child (i.e., child pornography crimes);
- Stalking (including cyberstalking); and
- Failing to Register as a Sex Offender.
Unlike other categories of crimes, sex crimes leave an additional scar or stigma on the convicted person. Being a registered sex offender brands a person as dangerous, making that person’s life difficult for years to come.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Crimes in Leon County, Florida (F.S. § 316.193)
Driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Leon County, although on the downward trend, are still common. A person may face DUI charges if the following statutory requirements have been met:
- The driver was in actual physical control of the vehicle at issue; and
- The driver’s normal faculties were impaired from being under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or
- The driver had a blood-alcohol level of .08 or greater grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
- The driver had a breath-alcohol level of .08 or greater grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
Most DUI charges involve the alleged consumption of alcohol with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of between .08 and .14. However, some DUI cases involve aggravating factors that make the alleged crimes more serious, including, among others, the following:
- Having a BAC of .15 or Greater;
- Committing a DUI Offense with a Minor as a Passenger to the Vehicle;
- Committing a DUI Offense that Involves Property Damage; and
- Committing a DUI Offense that Involves Bodily Harm (injuries or death).
When DUI cases involve injuries or death, the defendant will face felony charges that could lead to decades in jail if convicted.
Theft Crimes in Leon County, Florida (F.S. § 812.014)
The Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law routinely handle theft crimes that are commonly charged by Leon County prosecutors. Examples of such theft crimes include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Burglary (F.S. § 810.02);
- Grand Theft;
- Identity Theft (F.S. § 817.568);
- Petit Theft; and
- Robbery (F.S. § 812.13).
A substantial number of theft crimes charged in Leon County relate to items of lower monetary value. When theft crimes involve items of a large monetary value and/or involve violence, the crimes are considered much more serious and jail time is a real possibility for convicted individuals.
Violent Crimes in Leon County, Florida
Violent crimes in Leon County carry the same stigma as sex crimes. Any crime that causes physical harm or death to another person is considered severe. The Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law handle a wide range of violent crimes, some of which include the following:
- Murder (F.S. § 782.04);
- Attempted Murder (F.S. § 782.051);
- Manslaughter (F.S. § 782.07);
- Vehicular Manslaughter (F.S. § 782.071);
- Assault and Battery (F.S. § 784.011 and F.S. § 784.03);
- Aggravated Battery (F.S. § 784.045);
- Arson (F.S. § 806.01);
- Rape/Sexual Battery (F.S. § 794.011); and
- Robbery (F.S. § 812.13).
When choosing a lawyer to handle a matter involving violent crimes, it is imperative to choose a Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyer who has successfully defended clients charged with the same crimes in the courtroom. Violent crimes require a heightened level of skill in the courtroom that not every criminal defense lawyer possesses.
Internet Crimes in Leon County, Florida
Internet crimes in Leon County generally involve theft-related and sex-related offenses. Examples of internet crimes Musca Law handles include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Credit Card Fraud/Theft;
- Illegal Financial Transactions;
- Identity Theft;
- Child Pornography Crimes;
- Sex Trafficking; and
- Solicitation and/or Enticement of a Child for Sexual Purposes.
Some internet crimes may implicate federal law as the internet is a vast space that goes beyond Florida state lines. As such, anyone facing internet crimes in Leon County should work alongside a lawyer who can handle the case at either the state or federal level.
White-Collar Crimes in Leon County, Florida (F.S. § 775.0844)
White-collar crimes describe a category of criminal activity that relates to theft rather than violence or physical harm (although some white-collar criminal matters may involve related violent crimes). Many white-collar crimes can also fall under the category of internet crimes. Examples of white-collar crimes include, among others, the following:
- Conspiracy to Commit Fraud/Theft;
- Credit Card Fraud/Theft;
- Tax Fraud;
- Exploitation of Certain Groups of People (such as the elderly and disabled);
- Illegal Financial Transactions;
- Non-Violent Theft Crimes; and
White-collar crimes are typically felonies that carry hefty jail sentences, which may come as a surprise to many individuals in Leon County. In fact, some defendants convicted of violent crimes spend less time in jail than individuals convicted of white-collar crimes. As such, white-collar crimes should never be taken lightly.
Juvenile Crimes in Leon County, Florida
Minors under the age of eighteen who face criminal charges in Leon County are considered “juvenile offenders.” Unlike the adult criminal system, juveniles do not face the prospects of decades in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. Rather, when facing criminal charges as a juvenile, a different system will be applied. The consequences of being convicted of a crime as a juvenile include, among others, the following:
- Mandatory Community Service Hours;
- Participation in Educational Courses;
- Placement in a Halfway House/Group Home; and
- Incarceration in a Juvenile Detention Center.
While placement in a juvenile detention center is harsh, such a result will typically only apply to very serious criminal charges. Moreover, in rare cases, a juvenile may be tried as an adult, and can face the same criminal penalties as any adult convicted of the same crime. The overarching goal of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate juveniles to move forward with a clean slate. Juvenile criminal records are sealed, which allows juveniles to be free from mistakes made at a very young age.
Protective Injunctions/Restraining Orders in Leon County, Florida (F.S. § 784.0485)
Protective injunctions, commonly referred to as restraining orders, are civil matters that involve criminal allegations. The purpose of protective injunctions is to protect a victim of alleged violence, abuse, or potential violence or abuse. While accused individuals have a chance to defend themselves in court, a civil court judge can issue a protective injunction/restraining order within his/her discretion. There is no jury to decide the accused person’s fate. Under Florida law, there are five types of protective injunctions/restraining orders, which include the following:
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions (which includes cyberstalking).
Each type of protective injunction/restraining order has specific requirements a victim must satisfy to legally obtain the protective injunction/restraining order. Given that protective injunction matters allege criminal conduct, anyone facing a protective injunction/restraining order must retain a Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyer. Although protective injunctions are civil court orders, the consequences can feel like criminal penalties, and the violation of a protective injunction can lead to criminal charges.
Contact the Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
If you are facing criminal charges in Leon County, you should contact a qualified Leon County Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible following arrest and detention. Having a strong advocate by your side early on is essential to defending your case in court.
At Musca Law, our team of Tallahassee Criminal Defense Lawyers have extensive experience handling a variety of criminal matters, no matter how minor or serious. To learn how Musca Law can help to protect your legal rights during an uncertain and stressful time, contact our office today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our lawyers operate 24/7 throughout Leon County to help clients facing criminal charges at any time of day or night.