Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pasco County, Florida
An Overview of Florida Criminal Law, Legal Strategies Defenses, and Penalties
Knowing where to turn immediately for representation if you or someone you love was charged with a criminal offense in Pasco County, Florida, can make all of the difference. Waiting until the last minute to scramble desperately for representation might leave you facing a perilous situation. The criminal justice system in Florida is an extraordinarily complex legal system comprised of rules, statutes, appellate decisions, as well as constitutional provisions and interpretations. Obtaining the representation of a knowledgeable Pasco County criminal defense attorney with a reputation for excellence could help you avoid the harsh consequences of facing a conviction under Florida’s criminal laws. Even the most mundane and ordinary misdemeanor charges like disorderly conduct or simple possession of a narcotic in Pasco County could turn your life upside down if you do not retain a Pasco County criminal defense attorney who understands the criminal justice system in Florida, but who also has the skill, ability, and determination to pursue justice for every client.
Pasco County Criminal Defense Overview
Convictions for minor offenses can be the beginning of acclimating a criminal record. Judges in Pasco County who observe numerous convictions on a criminal record will believe that the person appearing before the court is an unrepentant recidivist who has no respect for the law. Florida’s criminal sentencing structure requires a sentencing judge to analyze the accused’s prior criminal record and consider previous convictions for misdemeanors and felonies. However, with a skilled advocate fighting for you, you have a good chance to avoid convictions for minor offenses, in the first instance.
The traditional notions of justice in the United States are premised upon the belief that every person charged with any crime is presumed to be innocent. The presumption of innocence, as the theory is known, remains with the accused unless and until the prosecution proves the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to satisfy that burden, then the jury, or judge if the trial is a bench trial, must find the accused not guilty. The presumption of innocence is so great that the defendant has the absolute right to sit back and forced the government to prove the case against him or her. Of course, no one would run the risk of not defending against allegations of criminal conduct. A tireless advocate with extraordinary trial skills coupled with vast trial experience will strategize a defense that could lead to an acquittal by breaking down The prosecution’s evidence and demonstrating the flaws in the prosecution’s argument, with the ultimate goal of convincing the jury that the prosecution failed to satisfy its burden of proof.
The Pasco County criminal defense attorneys with Musca Law possess over 150 years of criminal trial experience defending clients against state charges as well as federal indictments. The extensive experience gathered by Musca Law’s Pasco County criminal defense lawyers is an invaluable tool that thousands of satisfied clients have relied upon when caught in Florida’s revolving door of criminal justice. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to consult with one of our seasoned and accomplished Pasco County criminal defense attorneys about your rights and discuss what we could do to protect your freedom.
Criminal Offenses in Pasco County, Florida
The legislature in Florida passed laws that distribute punishment for offenders convicted for crimes contingent upon the severity of the crime and other relevant factors. Relatively minor offenses like petit theft, simple assault, or drunk and disorderly do not require incarceration as punishment, even for offenders with a long criminal record. Conversely, a person with no prior criminal history could receive a decades-long prison sentence for violent felonies, narcotics trafficking crimes, and sexual offenses as well.
Florida’s graduated punishment scheme prescribes the maximum sentence for each offense, along with the potential maximum fine, as follows:
Category of Offense
Maximum Period of Incarceration
Maximum Allowable Fine
Sixty-Days in County Jail
One-Year in County Jail
Five-Year Prison Sentence
Fifteen-Year Prison Sentence
Thirty-Year Prison Sentence
Incarceration for Life without Parole
The judge will determine the severity of the offense based on the charge filed by the prosecution and ascertain the maximum sentence allowed by the statutory scheme, while taking minimum-mandatory sentences and aggravating factors such as the presence of a child in the vicinity of the criminal act, to brandishing or using a firearm when arriving at a just sentence. Additionally, the sentencing judge must complete Florida’s sentencing scoresheet to arrive at a sentence that is consistent with other sentences for the same crime in similar circumstances across the state.
Florida’s sentencing scoresheet promotes fair and consistent sentences. However, the scoresheet places insufficient emphasis on individualized treatment. A powerful advocate could persuade the sentencing to depart downward from the sentence dictated by the scoresheet to consider the offender’s characteristics in sentencing.
In addition to facing incarceration and heavy fines, the sentencing judge may issue a period of probation after the offender’s release from prison or jail. Probation could be useful for some. The probation department could watch after the offender and try to help avoid the individual from becoming a repeat offender and offer services with the goal of rehabilitation rather than persistent incarceration. Notwithstanding the potential benefit probation could have for a person, the conditions of probation that the person must satisfy could be demanding and exceedingly difficult to complete.
Musca Law is a Full-Service Criminal Defense Law Firm for Pasco County
Musca Law’s Pasco County, Florida, criminal defense attorneys do not select one category of crimes upon which they focus their practice. Instead, Musca Law’s Pasco County criminal defense lawyers have a broad background in their criminal defense practice. When some law firms focus solely on charges relating to driving under the influence, drug crimes, or domestic violence offenses, Musca Law believes that every person, no matter the offense, deserves vigorous defense of his or her constitutional rights by aa team of competent lawyers dedicated to achieving the best results possible for their clients. Therefore, our law firm does not select only certain types of cases; rather, we choose to represent all people charged with various crimes in Pasco County and throughout the state of Florida.
We know from our best experience representing people from all walks of life in Florida’s courts that a criminal conviction can have lasting adverse consequences. That is why we fight desperately to win acquittals in every case we can or help our clients resolve the case with a plea bargain that is the most favorable disposition possible. Experience dictates that felony convictions can result in job loss, financial stress, family discord, as well as revocation of one’s driver’s license. Additionally, felony convictions often follow a person no matter where he or she lives.
A felony conviction could deprive the person of the right to possess firearms, lose educational opportunities, lose financial opportunities, and even lose the right to vote. As a result of these harsh and unintended collateral consequences of criminal punishment, we fight exhaustively to insulate you and your family from the inevitable repercussions of a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction.
We have represented people who were arrested in Florida or face charges for criminal offenses while visiting Florida. Our clients who reside in other states are dismayed to learn that possession of a large amount of marijuana or possession of certain narcotics could be felony offenses. In other states, similar crimes may still be treated as misdemeanors. We understand that Florida law can be much more unforgiving than other states’ criminal laws. We work hard to mitigate the effect criminal charges have on our clients’ lives. Call us today at 888-484-5057 to learn what we can do for you.
Defense of Controlled Substance Charges in Pasco County, Florida (FL)
Prosecutors and narcotics investigators are in a constant game of cat-and-mouse with people who sell drugs. Law enforcement will develop new investigative techniques in a desperate attempt to keep pace with evolving methods of avoiding the police. Also, prosecutors rely on the severe potential state prison sentences, with lengthy minimum-mandatory sentences dictated by §893.13 of the Florida Statutes.
Not every person who possesses narcotics or who sells drugs is a criminal mastermind. To be sure, many people caught up in the drug trade are selling drugs to feed their habit and are not a cog in the wheel of a massive underground drug distribution ring. These low-level offenders need to learn the skills to wean themselves off drugs, so they do not need to sell anymore.
Musca Law’s Pasco County criminal defense lawyers represent people charged with drug crimes such as:
- Simple possession of drugs like crystal meth, heroin, morphine, fentanyl, cocaine, and marijuana, along with synthetic drugs;
- Possession of drugs or narcotics intending to sell or distribute;
- Trafficking in narcotics;
- Conspiracy to violate Florida’s drug laws; and
- Possession of paraphernalia designed to facilitate the distribution or consumption of drugs.
Not every drug offender deserves to receive a long state prison sentence. Public safety advocates will counter by arguing that drug dealing jeopardizes lives, not only from taking substances that are from dubious origins, but also the violence that accompanies drug dealing enterprises. Putting some on in jail does not teach a person the skills necessary to cope with drug addiction.
That is why alternatives to incarceration, which are becoming increasingly popular to fight the disease, such as:
- Drug court,
- Substance abuse counseling,
- Residential drug treatment,
- Outpatient drug rehabilitation,
- Referral to dual-diagnosis programs to treat mental illness and drug dependence, and
- Probationary conditions like abstinence and urine screen protocols to ensure compliance.
Offenders with no record or non-violent drug offenders could be eligible to engage in alternatives to incarceration to treat their drug problems. Therefore, having a Pasco County criminal defense attorney advocate for a dismissal or a deferred adjudication with attendance in alternative programs could give you the advantage you need to avoid jail for drug addiction problems.
Domestic Violence Arrests in Pasco County, Florida (FL)
Florida Statutes §741.28 defines domestic violence broadly to include violent crimes such as aggravated battery, assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual battery, sexual assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, stalking, and aggravated stalking. Additionally, any crime perpetrated against a family member against another family member that has the possibility of inflicting severe personal injury or death satisfies the definition of domestic violence.
Florida’s domestic violence laws apply to charges in which the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim are either families or household members. Household or family members are individuals who are married, separated, divorced, living together as a family, or at one time lived together as a family. Family also includes the parents of a child, even if the parents never lived together. Household members must reside in the same residential unit to meet the domestic violence definition.
Domestic violent offenders face long prison terms, with minimum-mandatory sentences after a conviction. Additionally, the sentencing judge could fashion a probationary term to be served after the induvial leaves prison designed to ensure that the perpetrator never reoffends. The judge can order attendance at batterer’s counseling, GPS monitoring, stay away and have no contact with the alleged victim and family, and surrender all firearms.
Sex Offenses in Pasco County, Florida (FL)
Reports of sex crimes repulse people, especially when the crimes involve children. Unfortunately, stories of sexual abuse can be fabricated or exaggerated. People who work outside the justice system sometimes have a difficult time grasping that concept. They rightly question why anyone would come forward with such awful allegations if they were untrue. Tragically, many lives have been shredded by accusers looking to exact revenge or garner sympathy and fabricate stories that could land the offender in prison for life.
Musca Law’s Pasco County criminal defense lawyers have defended clients charged with:
- Human Trafficking;
- Sexually-motivated crimes against children, including possessing, creating, or distributing child pornography;
- Perpetrating lewd and lascivious acts;
- Refusing to enter the sex offender registry;
- Sexual assault;
- Sexual battery;
- Solicitation of prostitution, and
You must be ready to fight desperately for your life if you are charged with a sex offense or learn you are under investigation for a sex offense in Pasco County. Prosecutors in Pasco County argue for long prison terms and also move to for civil commitments as a sexual predator upon release. We pledge to fight with you every step of the way and be your ally in your struggle for freedom.
DUI Charges in Pasco County, Florida (FL)
Driving under the influence is extraordinarily dangerous. Anyone who drives after having a couple of drinks or takes drugs endangers themselves and everyone around them. Florida’s DUI law, codified at Florida Statutes §316.193, is an expression of Florida’s public policy that drunk or intoxicated drivers must be dealt with harshly, and the behavior cannot be tolerated, even if the person charged has never been arrested before.
- DUI charges in Pasco County could include:
- Driving under the influence,
- DUI as a subsequent offender,
- Driving a commercial vehicle under the influence,
- Driving under the influence with a child younger than eighteen in the vehicle,
- Driving with a blood-alcohol level of .15% of above,
- DUI causing serious bodily injury,
- DUI manslaughter, and
- DUI causing property damage or personal injury.
The possible sentences for DUI charges in Pasco range from six months of incarceration, along with a term of probation, to as long as fifteen years committed in the state’s prison system after a DUI manslaughter conviction. DUI convictions automatically result in the revocation of the offender’s driver’s license. The convicted offender must attend a drivers’ educational course, perform community service, pay substantial monetary fines, and could be ordered to complete substance abuse counseling.
Boating under the influence is also gambling with other’s lives in Pasco County. Law enforcement officers treat BUI incidents seriously. The potential penalties for BUI are nearly identical to those imposed upon conviction for DUI.
Theft Crimes in Pasco County, Florida (FL)
Florida Statutes §812.014 defines theft as the willful and knowing, removal, or taking of the property of another while intending to deprive the rightful owner of the property permanently. The possible sentences range from misdemeanor jail sentences to lengthy state prison sentences. The length of incarceration, along with a term of probation coupled with an order to pay restitution, will be determined by the judge at sentencing.
- Common theft offenses brought in Pasco County are:
- Petit Theft;
- Grand Theft;
- Burglary (See, F.S. §810.02)
- Identity Theft (See, F.S. §817.568); and
- Robbery (See, F.S. §812.13);
Theft victims are often from vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, who can fall prey to scams. A judge at sentencing will heavily weigh the impact the crime of theft had on the victim when pronouncing a sentence.
Violence Crimes in Pasco County, Florida (FL)
Violent crime is a scourge on our communities. The victims, the victim’s family, and the public demand the perpetrators of those crimes be brought to justice. Despite the outrage demonstrated by the people most closely affected by a violent crime rightly show, the person charged is cloaked and shrouded in the presumption of innocence, and no public outrage can pierce that veil.
Violent offenses committed in Pasco County include:
- Murder (F.S. §782.04);
- Attempted Murder (F.S. §782.051);
- Arson (F.S. §806.01);
- Manslaughter (F.S. §782.07);
- Vehicular Manslaughter (F.S. §782.071);
- Rape or Sexual Battery (F.S. § 794.011).
- Robbery (F.S. §812.13);
- Assault and Battery (F.S. §784.011 and F.S. §784.03); and
- Aggravated Battery (F.S. §784.045);
These offenses are some of the most egregious and serious charges a person can face in Florida. Anyone charged with a violent offense faces decades in prison if not the death sentence for a capital crime. The need for experienced, skilled, and dedicated defense counsel when facing these charges cannot be overstated. Too much is at stake to trust any other attorney to represent you in these circumstances.
Cyber Crimes and White Collar Crimes in Pasco County, Florida (FL)
Cyber-crimes are the “red-light district” of the internet. Cyber criminals hide behind their technological prowess to victimize people. The law is still miles behind, but law enforcement officers receive substantial training to close the gap. Cyber-crimes include offenses committed electronically or through the use of the internet. They include crimes such as fraud, credit card fraud, theft, identity theft, and embezzlement. Cyber-crimes often involve sex crimes, as well. The internet and personal electronic devices are instrumental in distributing child pornography, soliciting prostitution, prostitution, and human trafficking.
The phrase “white-collar crimes” connotes a non-violent theft, usually reserved for the business world. Crimes such as theft, embezzlement, gambling, and racketeering are non-violent methods of stealing that typically incorporate elaborate schemes to commit the crime. White-collar crimes can have a disastrous effect on the victimized business as well as the community at large, which motivates law enforcement agencies to pursue white-collar criminals vigorously.
Juvenile Justice in Pasco County, Florida
Scientific research developed over the last decade revealed that children’s brains, especially male brains, do not fully develop until the person’s mid-20s. The result of that groundbreaking psychological discovery inspired change in how juveniles are treated in the Florida criminal justice system. Change has been slow, but the focus has begun to shift towards rehabilitation and formal educational training rather than incarceration in a juvenile detention center. Some juveniles, especially those who exhibit violent tendencies, could end up in a juvenile detention center or state prison if charged as an adult.
An attorney who understands the importance of steering your child out of the juvenile justice system through immersion in diversion programs can help you prevent your child from ruining his or her life while the child is still a child. Unless the child is tried as an adult, juvenile charges are not public record. Therefore, youthful indiscretion will not plague the child as he or she matures.
Protective Injunctions in Pasco County, Florida
Judges in Pasco County rule on hundreds of petitions for injunctions to prevent harm each year. Florida Statutes §784.0485 gives a judge discretion to issue injunctions to prevent harm or violence. Florida law permits judges to issue anyone of five injunctions to prevent against harm such as:
- Sexual Violence;
- Dating Violence;
- Domestic Violence;
- Stalking; and
- Repeat Violence.
The alleged victim on abuse can ask the court for protection by filing a petition in a Pasco County court. The hearings judge could issue a temporary order that lasts for up to fifteen days. At the end of the fifteen-day interval, the court will hold a final hearing on the merits of the petition. You are in danger of losing valuable rights and living with restrictions permanently unless you aggressively defend against a petition for a protective injunction.
Access to Justice is a Phone Call Away
Contact Musca Law at 888-484-5057 to consult one of our dedicated New Port Richey criminal defense lawyers. We are available 24/7 to advise you of your rights and take all the necessary steps to protect you and your family.