Criminal Defense Lawyers in Polk Beach County, Florida

An Overview of Florida Criminal Laws, Penalties, and Legal Defenses

According to data provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, approximately 80 people were arrested each day in 2019, totaling 29,360 arrests. Not every arrest will lead to criminal charges, but many do, making an accused person’s future very uncertain. Being charged with any crime in Polk County is something not to be taken lightly, and anyone facing criminal charges must find a qualified Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested.

While there are many lawyers in Polk County and throughout the rest of the state of Florida, not every lawyer is in the best position to provide superior legal representation. At Musca Law, our Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers have the requisite skill, solid reputation, track record of success, and dedication to help anyone facing criminal charges in Polk County. If you have been charged with one or more crimes, you must act quickly to protect your legal rights. Find out how the Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law can help you by calling (888) 484-5057. We are available 24/7 to provide clients with the legal advice they need.

Understanding How Crimes are Classified in Polk County, Florida

Criminal charges filed by Polk County prosecutors will vary from unclassified misdemeanors to capital felonies, all based on Florida state law. Some prosecutors are more aggressive than others in bringing charges and trying cases before a jury. As such, a Polk County prosecutor may treat a minor drug charge as more serious than a Miami-Dade County prosecutor may treat the same crime. Regardless of where a person is charged with a crime, the potential consequences associated with conviction of that crime will be the same. Per Florida law, criminal charges are classified as follows:

LEVEL OF CRIME

MAXIMUM
JAIL SENTENCE
(
See F.S. § 775.082)

MAXIMUM FINE
(
See F.S. § 775.083)

Second-Degree Misdemeanor

6 Months

$500

First-Degree Misdemeanor

1 Year

$1,000

Third-Degree Felony

5 Years

$5,000

Second-Degree Felony

15 Years

$10,000

First-Degree Felony

30 Years

$10,000

Life Felony

Life

$15,000

Capital Felony

Death Penalty

None

 

Additional Consequences Associated with Polk County Criminal Charges and Convictions

Many qualified Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers can successfully help a client avoid jail time by either having criminal charges dismissed or negotiating a plea agreement that helps a client avoid jail time. In some cases, criminal charges may be dismissed on condition of certain requirements. If a criminal case cannot be dismissed based on legal grounds, the person facing charges should expect to face consequences that are separate and apart from jail time and fines. Examples of such consequences include, but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Probation;
  • Harm to one’s reputation;
  • Loss of the right to own firearms and ammunition (when pleading guilty or being convicted of a felony);
  • Loss of voting rights while incarcerated for a felony conviction;
  • The requirement to complete community service hours;
  • The requirement to undergo mental health evaluations;
  • The requirement to attend routine counseling;
  • The requirement to submit to alcohol and drug screening; and
  • Difficulty obtaining employment, finding a place to live, obtaining credit, and accomplishing anything else that is contingent on a positive background check.

Any criminal record can be detrimental to a person’s ability to move forward in life, even when a person is able to avoid jail time for a criminal conviction.

Musca Law – a Polk County Criminal Defense Law Firm that Handles it All

The Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law represent clients charged with a variety of criminal offenses, some of which are minor misdemeanors, while others are very serious felonies. Not every criminal defense law firm in Polk County handles all types of criminal charges. As such, it is imperative to ensure you find a Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer with the necessary experience to adequately represent your rights and interests.

Drug-Related Crimes in Polk county, Florida (F.S. § 893.13)

Most drug charges in Polk County pertain to possession intended for personal use, but in some cases, drug charges can be harsh felonies. Examples of drug charges Polk County prosecutors pursue regularly include, among others, the following:

  • Possession of a small amount of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, prescription opioids, ecstasy, LCD, an PCP, among others);
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia;
  • Possession of drugs with the intent to distribute;
  • Drug trafficking; and
  • Conspiracy to commit one or more drug crimes.

While most drug charges are based on Florida state laws, some charges may implicate federal law if any drug crime is committed beyond the state of Florida. For example, if a person is accused of trafficking drugs from the state of Florida to another state, he or she may face not only state drug charges but also federal drug charges. Therefore, it is essential for anyone facing drug charges in Polk County to work with a Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer who handles both state and federal drug cases.

Domestic Violence Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida (F.S. § 741.28)

Per Florida law, domestic violence is considered “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 key to proving a domestic violence case is showing that the alleged victim is, in fact, a family or household member. Florida law defines family or household members as the following:

"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.”

Domestic violence cases can be sensitive and require the assistance of a lawyer who understands the best way to approach the case and build a defense. To be convicted of a domestic violence crime, the alleged violence must have been committed by one household or family member against another family or household member. If such a requirement cannot be established by Polk County prosecutors, charges alleging domestic violence may be dismissed. However, raising this defense requires the assistance of a skilled Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Sex-Related Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida

Most sex crimes are felonies under Florida law, and conviction of a sex-related offense can forever brand a person as a dangerous sexual predator, even if the facts underlying the criminal allegations are false or misleading. Examples of sex-related crimes Polk County prosecutors pursue include, among others, the following:

  • Rape;
  • Attempted Rape;
  • Statutory Rape;
  • Prostitution;
  • Solicitation of Prostitution;
  • Human Trafficking;
  • Lewd and Lascivious Acts;
  • Sex-Related Crimes Involving a Child (such as child pornography crimes);
  • Stalking; and
  • Failing to register as a sex offender.

Anyone charged with a sex-related crime has a lot on the line. One conviction or guilty plea can lead to mandatory registration as a sex offender, a consequence that can change a person’s life forever.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida (F.S. § 316.193)

Facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Polk County should not be considered a minor criminal offense, even when the offense is a first DUI and the accused individual does not have a criminal record. The various DUI charges a person can face in Polk County along with the penalties for each DUI charge include the following:

OFFENSE

CLASSIFICATION

MAXIMUM JAIL TIME

MAXIMUM FINE

First DUI with BAC of .08 or More

Unclassified Misdemeanor

Six Months

$1,000

First DUI with Minor Under 18 in the Vehicle

Unclassified Misdemeanor

Nine Months

$2,000

First DUI with BAC of .15 or More

Unclassified Misdemeanor

Nine Months

$2,000

Second DUI with BAC of .08 or More

Unclassified Misdemeanor

Nine Months

$2,000

DUI Involving Property Damage

First-Degree Misdemeanor

One Year

$1,000

Second DUI with BAC of .15 or More

Unclassified Misdemeanor

One Year

$4,000

Third DUI More than 10 Years After Prior DUI

Unclassified Misdemeanor

One Year

$5,000

Third DUI Within 10 Years of Prior DUI

Third-Degree Felony

Five Years

$5,000

Fourth DUI

Third-Degree Felony

Five Years

$5,000

DUI Involving Bodily Injury

Third-Degree Felony

Five Years

$5,000

DUI Manslaughter (Death of Another Person or Unborn Child)

Second-Degree Felony

Fifteen Years

$10,000

DUI Manslaughter with Failure to Render Aid

First-Degree Felony

Thirty Years

$10,000

To be found guilty of DUI in Polk County, the prosecution must prove the following:

  • The defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle at issue; and
  • The defendant’s normal faculties were impaired from being under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or
  • The defendant had a blood-alcohol level of .08 or greater grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
  • The defendant had a breath-alcohol level of .08 or greater grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

While many DUI cases in Polk County seem clear-cut from the prosecution’s perspective, some DUI charges are defensible and should be fought in court. A Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer with substantial experience handling DUI cases will evaluate a client’s case to determine what the best result will be given the facts of the case.

Theft-Related Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida (F.S. § 812.014)

Violent crimes often land individuals in jail for many years or decades. Theft-related crimes that do not involve physical harm may not seem that serious. However, while some theft-related crimes cause minimal harm, others cause catastrophic financial harm to others. As such, some theft-related crimes are felonies that have the potential to a significant jail sentence. Examples of theft-related crimes under Florida law include, among others, the following:

Violent Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida

Violent criminal offenses carry some of the most serious penalties under Florida law, and anyone convicted of a violent crime – especially one that causes injuries or death to another person – will likely spend substantial time in jail. Examples of violent crimes include, but may not be limited to, the following:

Violent crimes vary in severity. Therefore, a battery charge in one case may not be as severe as a battery charge in another case. One unfortunate reality of criminal proceedings is that many individuals charged with committing violent crimes are not afforded fair treatment, and the criminal charges are often more serious than the conduct that gave rise to the charges. As such, a Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer who can successfully defend a client’s rights as well as successfully negotiate with prosecutors is the type of lawyer all defendants need and deserve.

Internet Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida

Internet crimes typically involve theft and sex-related offenses. Although internet crimes do not necessarily harm a person physically (with exceptions), such crimes can cause significant financial harm or harm to children in the case of sex-related offenses. Examples of internet crimes frequently charged in Polk County include, among others, the following:

  • Embezzlement;
  • Illegal Financial Transactions;
  • Credit Card Fraud/Theft;
  • Identity Theft;
  • Child pornography crimes (such as possession, manufacturing, and the distribution and sale of child pornography, among others);
  • Sex Trafficking; and
  • Solicitation and/or Enticement of a Child for Sexual Purposes.

White-Collar Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida (F.S. § 775.0844)

White-collar crimes in Polk County can fall under multiple categories, including theft-related crimes, internet crimes, and the sub-specialty of white-collar criminal law. Conviction of white-collar crimes can send a defendant to jail for many decades, if not life. Examples of white-collar crimes (some of which may be charged at the federal level), include the following:

  • Embezzlement;
  • Illegal Financial Transactions;
  • Credit Card Fraud/Theft;
  • Exploitation of Certain Groups of People (such as the elderly and disabled);
  • Racketeering;
  • Conspiracy to Commit Fraud; and
  • Non-Violent Theft Crimes.

Many Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers do not handle white-collar crimes as such crimes require an understanding of a broad area of criminal law. When facing white-collar crimes in Polk County, the best lawyer to handle the matter should have a proven track record of success in defending clients who are facing white-collar crimes in Polk County.

Juvenile Criminal Offenses in Polk County, Florida

Juveniles in Polk County are afforded different treatment than adults. While some juveniles may be tried as adults – when the alleged crimes are committed by a juvenile close to the age of eighteen (18) or when the alleged crimes involve violent crimes – most juveniles have their criminal matters resolved in Polk County juvenile courts. Juvenile criminal records are sealed so that they do not cause long-term harm to juveniles.

Juveniles are not punished for their crimes in the same way adults are, if convicted. Rather, juvenile criminal matters are seen as an opportunity for rehabilitation in the form of community service, attendance at alcohol and drug abuse course, supervised education, and in some cases, placement in a home that promotes positive behavior. With more serious criminal charges, juveniles may be required to stay in a juvenile detention center.

Protective Injunctions/Restraining Orders in Polk County, Florida (F.S. § 784.0485)

Protective Injunctions, also known as orders of protection and restraining orders, are unique in that they are not criminal proceedings but involve alleged criminal conduct. Protective injunctions are civil matters. Under Florida law, victims of alleged violence, abuse, or potential violence or abuse, can seek five types of protective injunctions, which include the following:

  • Dating Violence Injunctions;
  • Domestic Violence Injunctions;
  • Repeat Violence Injunctions;
  • Sexual Violence Injunctions; and
  • Stalking Injunctions.

Because protective injunctions often involve ongoing criminal proceedings pertaining to the same alleged conduct, anyone facing a protective injunction – whether he or she is also facing criminal charges – should immediately contact a Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer who also regularly handles protective injunction matters.

Contact the Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!

If you are facing criminal charges in Polk County, it is important that you have a full understanding of your legal rights and your options for fighting the criminal charges. With more than 150 years of combined professional experience, Musca Law excels at providing high-quality legal representation to clients from throughout Polk County and the rest of the state of Florida. Our law firm has the resources to handle the most serious of criminal charges under Florida law. Act swiftly to protect your rights by calling Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057. Our Lakeland Criminal Defense Lawyers are available 24/7 to provide you with the answers you need to move forward.

Get your case started by calling us at (888) 484-5057 today!