Criminal Defense Lawyers in Palm Beach County, Florida
An Overview of Florida Criminal Laws, Penalties, and Legal Defenses
Per the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, over 700,000 individuals were placed under arrest in 2019, with more than 550,000 facing criminal charges. Of the criminal charges, most constituted “larceny,” which is a lower-level theft offense. Domestic violence accounted for approximately 100,000 of all of the criminal charges brought forth in Florida courts. Although the population of Florida continues to increase, 700,000 arrests and 550,000 criminal charges are large numbers that may be shocking to many.
Palm Beach County prosecutors work hard to pursue a conviction, regardless of whether the underlying facts and circumstances of the case do not warrant said conviction. Given that prosecutors fight tirelessly to pursue a conviction, any person who is facing criminal charges requires a skilled Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer who will defend his or her client to the fullest extent of the law. Only a competent attorney can raise a strong defense to the charges on behalf of his or her client. While no lawyer can guarantee a successful result, they can give the alleged offender a fighting chance to have the case dismissed or the criminal charges reduced.
Regardless of the charges that are being pursued (whether they are misdemeanor or felony offenses), it is critical to hire a Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer from Musca Law. Act quickly to safeguard your legal rights today by calling (888) 484-5057.
Understanding the Different Levels of Crimes Under Florida Law
Florida’s criminal laws range from minor offenses to capital felonies. Accordingly, the associated penalties for minor crimes may not result in jail time, certain felonies can result in life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
When facing criminal charges in Palm Beach County, those accused of a crime should be aware of the potential consequences of each. Under Florida law, it classifies crimes as either misdemeanors or felonies, the consequences of which are as follows:
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 upon the type of offense an individual faces, the crime may violate both state and federal law. In such instances, prosecutors from the federal government may seek a grand jury and issue an indictment against the alleged offender. Federal law-related offenses and the associated penalties tend to be serious, if not more serious, than Florida state crimes.
A conviction can cause a person to have a tainted reputation, especially because it can permanently remain on a person’s record (unless it is expunged or sealed by a Palm Beach County court). Those facing criminal charges in Palm Beach County are often shocked to learn that possessing a large amount of cannabis or a small amount of another type of controlled substance could result in a five-year prison sentence. Given the fact that criminal charges are serious in Palm Beach County, it is critical to act quickly by hiring a skilled Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Musca Law Handles All Types of Criminal Cases in Palm Beach County
Not every law firm in Florida handles criminal cases. For instance, some law firms may only focus on criminal violations such as driving under the influence (DUI), boating under the influence (BIU), traffic violations, and minor drug possession. At Musca Law, our experienced Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Attorneys have ample resources to provide all clients with the legal representation they need regardless of the types of charges being sought against them. All crimes carry with them serious consequences, which is why it is critical to have an attorney who has experience handling a wide variety of criminal cases in Palm Beach County.
Drug Crimes in Palm Beach County (F.S. § 893.13)
In Palm Beach County, the prosecution is typically aggressive in charging an individual with a drug-related offense, which range in severity. Examples of drug crimes that are often charged include, without limitation, 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 Palm Beach County, minor drug-related crimes (that do not involve violence), such as the possession of a small quantity of drugs or the possession of drug paraphernalia, often do not result in imprisonment. Instead, minor drug-related offenses are handled 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
Those accused who have a prior criminal record may not be subject to the alternative sentencing programs. This is why it is critical for a person with a prior criminal record to seek the services of a dedicated and aggressive legal advocate who can help his or her client avoid jail time and other serious penalties.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Palm Beach County (F.S. § 741.28)
Prosecutors in Palm Beach County often charge people with domestic violence-related offenses that are associated with serious consequences if prosecutors are able to secure a conviction or guilty plea. Under Florida law, “domestic violence” is defined 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 prove that the alleged offender and the alleged victim are family or household members, such as “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.”
Those charged with domestic violence should expect to harsh consequences if convicted. Courts and the prosecution take domestic violence claims very seriously in Palm Beach County. To avoid facing serious consequences, it is critical for the person facing domestic violence charges to hire an experienced Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Attorney who can quickly assess a case and determine what is the best defense strategy possible.
Sex Crimes in Palm Beach County
Under Florida law, there are a variety of offenses that qualify as “sex crimes.” Examples of sex crimes include, without limitation, 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 instances, those accused of a sex crime may face serious penalties that have life-altering repercussions.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Palm Beach County (F.S. § 316.193)
Driving under the influence is an offense that is commonly charged in Palm Beach County. DUI-related charges, akin to drug-related charges, range in severity from misdemeanors to felonies, depending upon the facts and circumstances of one’s case. Examples of DUI charges in Palm Beach County include the following:
- DUI Involving Commercial Drivers;
- Felony DUI; and
- DUI Manslaughter.
Under Florida law, there are a number of elements that need to be proven for a person to be convicted of DUI. These elements include:
- 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 time or second time DUI conviction constitutes a misdemeanor. However, additional DUI-related offenses qualify as third-degree felonies. A person may also face a third-degree felony if he or she was intoxicated and caused another person to sustain bodily injuries. The most serious of all DUI-related offenses is DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony. Keep in mind that a victim of DUI manslaughter can be an unborn child, pursuant to Florida law.
BUI is another drug or alcohol-related offense that involves the control of a vessel (such as a boat or jet ski) rather than an automobile. The penalties associated with BUI vary just as do the penalties for DUI. The more serious the conduct, the harsher the penalties. Given the fact that the ocean waters surrounding Palm Beach County are heavily populated with boaters, BUI charges are routinely sought in Palm Beach County.
Theft-Related Crimes in Palm Beach County (F.S. § 812.014)
Offenses involving theft vary significantly as do the penalties associated with theft crimes. In Florida, “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 consequences of facing a theft conviction depend upon how much the property stolen is worth. Theft crimes involving violence are serious and punished heavily in Florida.
Examples of theft crimes commonly charged by Palm Beach 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).
Akin to other categories of crimes, theft-related offenses may not result in imprisonment, while other, more serious theft crimes can result in decades of jail time.
A person’s criminal history as well as the severity of the theft charge dictate whether a person is imprisoned and must face other serious consequences.
Violent Crimes in Palm Beach County
Offenses involving violent conduct are potentially more serious than other lower-level offenses. Violent crimes can lead to extended jail terms, including life imprisonment (or even the death penalty). Violent crimes 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).
A person convicted of a violent crime may face serious social stigma and other serious consequences. This is why it is critical for a person charged with a violent crime to have strong legal representation.
Internet Crimes in Palm Beach County
The internet is a popular venue for many across the United States, which unfortunately opens the door to criminal offenses that did not previously exist. The most popular internet-related offenses include theft and sex crimes. Common theft crimes include, without limitation, credit card theft, identity theft, and embezzlement. Sex-related crimes that involve the internet include, without limitation, the possession and electronic transfer of child pornography, sex trafficking, and the enticement of a child for sexual purposes. The “dark web” is the virtual location in which many internet crimes are committed.
White-Collar Crimes in Palm Beach County (F.S. § 775.0844)
White-collar offenses are non-violent crimes that fall under the umbrella of “theft” under Florida law. White-collar crimes are often committed by business professionals in order to gain financially from illegal actions. These types of crimes range from minor to serious, where the alleged offender could face years in jail and other serious consequences.
Examples of white-collar crimes include, without limitation, 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 just as serious as some violent crimes under Florida law. This is why it is vital that a person accused of such an offense retain a skilled Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Attorney who routinely handles these cases.
Juvenile Crimes in Palm Beach County
Juveniles in Florida are treated differently than adult offenders in the majority of cases. Specifically, juveniles (children under the age of eighteen) can face the same criminal charges as an adult, such as DUIs, violent crimes, and drug charges, however, the associated penalties will not be the same. In Palm Beach County, juveniles convicted of a crime may be required to participate in a diversion program that has the purpose of rehabilitating them. In other words, the purpose is not to punish the juvenile but to guide them down a better path. However, there is something known as juvenile detention for juveniles who commit more serious crimes.
While juvenile offenses do not remain on a person’s record, such crimes are nonetheless very serious and require the aid of an experienced Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Attorney. Moreover, it is vital to keep in mind that some juveniles may be tried as adults under certain circumstances (such as capital murder).
Protective Injunctions in Palm Beach County (F.S. § 784.0485)
Protective injunctions, also referred to in Florida as restraining orders, are typically issued in cases that involve claims of violent or potentially violent behavior. These are civil court orders that are decided by a judge rather than a jury. In Palm Beach County, people can pursue five types of protective injunctions, such as the following:
- Domestic Violence Injunctions;
- Sexual Violence Injunctions;
- Dating Violence Injunctions;
- Repeat Violence Injunctions; and
- Stalking Injunctions.
The associated consequences of a protective injunction do not result in criminal charges however, violating one does. In a number of cases, a protective injunction may be sought along with a corresponding criminal action (i.e., a person who is facing a domestic violence injunction in civil court and domestic violence charges in criminal court).
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 Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Building a Strong Defense to Reach the Best Result in Your Palm Beach County Criminal Matter
It is vital that a person facing criminal charges in Palm Beach County to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Public defenders and attorneys who do not handle many criminal cases may be skilled attorneys however, they may nonetheless lack the resources, expertise, and time to develop the strongest defense strategy possible. Public defenders are often left with little resources and time to take on one’s case. While there are costs associated with obtaining a Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer, it is well worth it because it could mean the reduction or dismissal of one’s criminal charges. There is no guarantee as to a result in one’s case, however, the more experienced the lawyer, the better chances an accused will receive a positive outcome.
Contact the Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
No crime is too minor or too serious for the 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 Palm Beach County, you must act quickly to seek the advice and guidance of the skilled and highly experienced attorneys at Musca Law. Contact our office today at (888) 484-5057 to find out how our legal team can safeguard your rights and discuss your legal options. Our Palm Beach County Defense Attorneys are standing by 24/7 to meet the needs of anyone who is facing criminal charges in Palm Beach County.