Criminal Defense Lawyers in Miami-Dade County, Florida
Overview of Florida Criminal Law, Charges, Penalties & Defenses
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, more than 700,000 people were arrested in 2019, with more than 550,000 of these people facing criminal charges. Of these criminal charges, most of them fall under the category of “larceny,” which are lower-level theft crimes. Domestic violence criminal charges account for more than 100,000 of all charges. Aggravated assault charges totaled at more than 55,000. While Florida’s population is large and growing, 700,000 arrests, 550,000 of which resulted in criminal charges, is a large number that may shock many people.
Prosecutors in Miami-Dade work hard to seek convictions of individuals, regardless of whether the facts warrant such a conviction. Because prosecutors will fight endlessly, anyone facing criminal charges needs a Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer who will fight even harder than the prosecution. Only a qualified lawyer can build the best defense to the particular crime(s) being charged. Although no lawyer can guarantee a dismissal or reduction of criminal charges, moving forward without a superior lawyer is a recipe for receiving the harshest penalties available under Florida law.
Regardless of whether you are facing a low-level misdemeanor or a felony, the Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law possess the necessary skills, resources, and dedication to fight for your legal rights. Time is precious when dealing with a criminal matter. As such, you should act quickly to speak with Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057.
Understanding the Different Levels of Crimes Under Florida Law
Florida’s criminal laws range from very minor to capital felonies. As such, the penalties for minor crimes may not involve jail time, whereas harsh felonies can result in life imprisonment without parole or even the death penalty. However, crimes that lead to a sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty are the most heinous of crimes, such as gruesome murders. When facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade, accused individuals should understand the potential consequences of each level of crime.
Florida law classifies crimes by misdemeanors and felonies, with numerous degrees within each category of crime, as identified in the table below.
60-Day Jail Sentence
1-Year Jail Sentence
5-Year Jail Sentence
15-Year Jail Sentence
30-Year Jail Sentence
Life Imprisonment Without Parole
Depending on the type of crime a person faces, the crime may violate not only Florida law but also federal law. In such cases, federal prosecutors may convene a grand jury and issue an indictment. Federal law typically applies when crimes go beyond the state of Florida. Federal crimes are just as serious, if not more serious, than Florida state crimes.
Criminal convictions can ruin a person’s reputation. Convictions can remain on a person’s record indefinitely unless sealed or expunged by order of a Miami-Dade court. Individuals facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade are often shocked to realize possession of a large quantity of marijuana or a small quantity of another controlled substance could lead to a potential five-year jail sentence. Given how serious criminal charges can be, it is imperative to act quickly to hire a reputable and experienced Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Not all law firms in Florida handle all criminal matters. For example, some law firms may choose to focus only on traffic violations, minor drug possession, driving under the influence charges (DUIs), and boating under the influence charges (BUIs). At Musca Law, our Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyers have the resources to provide all clients with the legal representation they need no matter what criminal charges are at issue. All crimes have serious consequences, but such consequences are often worse without a lawyer who has experience handling the most serious crimes under Florida law.
Drug Crimes in Miami-Dade County (F.S. § 893.13)
In Miami-Dade, prosecutors are aggressive in charging individuals with drug crimes, which range in severity. Examples of commonly charged drug crimes include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Drug possession (marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, morphine, and other controlled substances);
- Possession of drug paraphernalia;
- Drug possession with intent to distribute;
- Drug trafficking; and
- Conspiracy to commit drug crimes.
In Florida, minor drug crimes (that are non-violent), such as possession of a small amount of drugs or possession of drug paraphernalia, do not typically result in jail time. Instead, minor drug offenses are dealt with through alternative sentencing programs which include the following:
- Drug courts, which focus on treatment rather than punishment;
- Substance abuse education courses;
- Substance abuse counseling;
- Substance abuse treatment programs;
- Community service; and
Accused individuals who have a criminal history may not be afforded the option of alternative sentencing programs. As such, individuals with a blemished criminal record should ensure they have strong legal counsel who can help to reach a result that avoids jail time in the event the new drug charges cannot be dismissed.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Miami-Dade County (F.S. § 741.28)
Miami-Dade prosecutors routinely charge individuals with domestic violence crimes that have serious consequences if prosecutors can secure a conviction or guilty plea. Florida law defines “domestic violence” as “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.”
The prosecution must establish that the alleged perpetrator and victim are family or household members under Florida law. In Florida, family or household members are “spouses, 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.”
Defendants charged with domestic violence crimes should expect to face harsh consequences if convicted by a jury. Domestic violence is taken very seriously in Miami-Dade, and prosecutors will stop at nothing to ensure they do everything possible to convict the accused individuals. To avoid such harsh consequences, a person facing domestic violence charges should put his/her faith in a highly skilled Miami-Dade Criminal Defense lawyer who can quickly analyze a case to determine the best course of action.
Sex Crimes in Miami-Dade County, Florida
Under Florida law, numerous crimes fall under the category of “sex crimes.” Examples of sex crimes include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Statutory Rape;
- Sexual Crimes Involving Children (including child pornography);
- Prostitution and Solicitation of Prostitution;
- Failing to Register as a Sex Offender;
- Lewd and Lascivious Acts (such as exposure of one’s genitalia in public); and
- Human Trafficking.
In many cases, accused individuals face more than one sex crime, all of which have potentially catastrophic and life-changing consequences.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Miami-Dade County (F.S. § 316.193)
Driving under the influence is a crime that is commonly charged – at various levels – in Miami-Dade. DUI charges, like drug charges, can range in severity from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Examples of DUI charges in Florida include the following:
- DUI Involving Commercial Drivers;
- Felony DUI; and
- DUI Manslaughter.
Per Florida law, various elements must be established for a person to face DUI charges. Such elements include the following:
- The accused person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle;
- The accused person is under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances to the extent the person’s normal faculties are impaired; and
- The accused person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
A first and second DUI conviction is considered a misdemeanor without a specific degree. A third or subsequent DUI conviction within ten years of the prior DUI conviction is a third-degree felony. A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction – regardless of when the conviction occurs, is also a third-degree felony. A person may also face a third-degree felony if a DUI causes bodily injury to another person. The most serious DUI charge is DUI manslaughter, which is a DUI that causes the death of another person or an unborn child. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony.
Boating under the influence (BUI) is another alcohol or drug-related crime that involves the control of a boat or vessel rather than a vehicle. The penalties for BUI will vary just as do the penalties for DUI. The more serious the conduct, the more extensive the penalties. Because the ocean waters around Miami-Dade are filled to the brim with boaters who are residents, students, visitors, and tourists, BUI charges are routinely filed in Miami-Dade.
Theft Crimes in Miami-Dade County (F.S. § 812.014)
Crimes involving theft vary greatly as do the penalties associated with these crimes. Under Florida law, “theft” is defined as knowingly obtaining, using, or endeavoring to use “the property of another with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently,” (1) “deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property,” or “appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property.” The penalties for theft will be dependent on the value of the property stolen. The greater the value of the property, the harsher the penalties. Theft crimes can become especially serious when they involve violence.
Examples of theft crimes commonly charged by Miami-Dade prosecutors include the following:
- Petit theft;
- Grand Theft;
- Identity Theft (F.S. § 817.568);
- Robbery (F.S. § 812.13); and
- Burglary (F.S. § 810.02).
Like most other categories of crimes, theft crimes may not result in any jail time, or they could result in decades of jail time. Criminal history and the severity of the present theft charge are the key determining factors of whether a person will serve time in jail, and if so, how long that jail sentence will be if there is a conviction.
Violent Crimes in Miami-Dade County
Crimes involving violent conduct are potentially the most serious crimes a person can face in Florida. Violent crimes that can lead to decades, if not life, in jail (or even the death penalty) in some cases, 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);
- Robbery (F.S. § 812.13);
- Assault and Battery (F.S. § 784.011 and F.S. § 784.03);
- Aggravated Battery (F.S. § 784.045);
- Rape/Sexual Battery (F.S. § 794.011); and
- Arson (F.S. § 806.01).
Just one conviction of a violent crime can tarnish a person’s reputation and livelihood. Therefore, when facing criminal charges involving violent conduct, accused individuals must have a strong legal team to have the best chance of reaching a fair and reasonable outcome.
Internet Crimes in Miami-Dade County
The internet has exploded over the past couple of decades, opening the door to potential criminal activity that did not previously exist. The vast majority of internet crimes involve theft and sex-related offenses. Common internet theft crimes charged in Miami-Dade include, among others, identity theft, credit card theft, and embezzlement. Common sex-related internet crimes include, but are not limited to, the possession and electronic transfer (uploading or downloading) of child pornography, solicitation of child pornography, enticement of a child for sexual purposes, and sex trafficking. The “dark web” is the virtual location in which many internet crimes are committed.
White-Collar Crimes in Miami-Dade (F.S. § 775.0844)
White-collar crimes are non-violent offenses that typically fall under the broad category of theft. Such crimes are considered “white collar” because they are often committed by business professionals and relate to efforts to gain financially from illegal activities. White-collar crimes encompass a broad spectrum of crimes that range from minor to serious. Many white-collar crimes are felonies that send people to jail for decades. Examples of white-collar crimes include, among others, the following:
- Computer-related crimes to defraud others;
- The exploitation of certain groups of individuals, including the elderly and disabled;
- Illegal financial transactions;
- Conspiracy to defraud; and
- Non-violent theft crimes.
White-collar crimes are treated just as seriously as some violent crimes under Florida law. Therefore, anyone facing such crimes must retain a Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer who routinely handles white-collar crimes. Such criminal matters require specialized knowledge and experience.
Juvenile Crimes in Miami-Dade
Juvenile offenders in Florida are treated differently than adult offenders in most cases, and juvenile crimes are addressed in Juvenile Court. Juveniles are individuals under the age of eighteen (18), and while juveniles can face the same criminal charges as adults, such as drug charges, DUIs, and violent crimes, the punishment will not be the same. In Miami-Dade, juvenile offenders who are convicted of the alleged crimes may be required to participate in a diversion program intended to rehabilitate the juvenile. The purpose is not to punish but to guide the juvenile down a better path. Juvenile detention is also certainly a possible outcome for more serious crimes.
Although juvenile crimes do not stay on the individual’s record, such crimes are still serious and require the assistance of a skilled Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that some juvenile offenders may be tried as adults in certain circumstances. For example, a sixteen or seventeen-year-old juvenile who allegedly commits murder could face prosecution as an adult.
Protective Injunctions in Miami-Dade (F.S. § 784.0485)
Protective injunctions, also known as restraining orders, are issued in cases involving allegations of violent or potentially violent conduct. Protective injunctions are civil court orders that are decided by a judge rather than a jury. In Miami-Dade, individuals can seek five different types of protective injunctions, which include the following:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
The consequences of a protective injunction do not themselves lead to criminal charges. However, violation of a protective injunction could lead to criminal charges. In many cases, a protective injunction matter may relate to a pending criminal matter, but this is not always the case. A person can file a petition seeking a protective order even if the person alleged to have committed acts of violence or potentially violent behavior has not been charged with any crimes. As such, any person who has been served with a protective injunction must act quickly to seek the advice of a Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Building a Strong Defense to Reach the Best Result in Your Miami-Dade Criminal Matter
A strong defense to serious criminal charges in Miami-Dade begins with a phone call to a superior Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer. Public defenders and attorneys who handle criminal matters part-time may be excellent attorneys, but they may not have the resources, time, and expertise to build the best defense possible in a given case. Public defenders, unfortunately, are not afforded sufficient resources to help accused individuals reach a less-severe outcome in the courtroom. While the cost of a skilled Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer who focuses only on criminal law may seem expensive, the cost of spending decades in jail in addition to monetary fines is much worse. As such, anyone facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade should take all possible steps to retain a qualified and dedicated Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Contact the Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
No crime is too minor or too serious for the Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law. With more than 150 years of combined professional experience, our attorneys have the experience and resources to reach clients from throughout the state. If you are facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade, you must act quickly to seek the advice and guidance of Musca Law. Contact our office today at (888) 484-5057 to find out how our legal team can protect your rights. Our Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Lawyers are standing by 24/7 to meet the needs of anyone who is facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade County, Florida.