Criminal Defense Lawyers in St. Johns County, Florida
Florida Criminal Defense Overview, Laws, Offenses, and Defense Attorneys
Anyone charged with a criminal offense in Florida quickly learns that the justice system established in the state operates swiftly and is often heavy-handed. Overzealous prosecutors fight for convictions on all of their cases after law enforcement agents aggressively pursue the evidence. Once the prosecution secures a conviction, the sentencing judge has the authority to pronounce a prison sentence that delivers a strong message to the community that the court will not tolerate crime in St. Johns County.
There is another side to the criminal justice system, however. A person facing criminal charges in St. Johns County, Florida, receives the same constitutional protections as every other individual who is arrested and charged with a crime in the United States. The principles of justice that helped form this country prevent the state and the federal government from taking a person's life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Protecting an individual's due process rights is the essence of Musca Law's mission. Musca Law is a full-service criminal defense law firm representing people who are charged with crimes in St. Johns County, Florida. Musca Law has earned the reputation all across Florida as a firm whose criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that the federal and state constitutional rights of every person are protected.
Musca Law represents individuals charged with various crimes in St. Johns County. While some firms limit their practice to DUI defense, drug defense, or violent felony defense, Musca law's St. Johns County criminal defense lawyers use their wide breadth of experience handling numerous cases to their clients' advantage. A person who consults with a Musca Law St. Johns County criminal defense attorney will benefit from the firm's 150-plus years of collective criminal defense, unmatched resources, and reputation as criminal defense lawyers who are passionate about defending their clients' cases. Call Musca Law's St. Johns County, Florida, criminal defense lawyers today at 888-484-5057 to discuss how they could help protect your liberty.
Why You Need the Right Attorney for Your St. Johns County Criminal Defense
Every legally competent person has the right to act as his or her own attorney. However, self-representation is incredibly dangerous because of the collateral consequences a person could suffer without even knowing it. Even a minor charge relating to a motor vehicle infraction has the potential to turn into an exceedingly difficult situation. Although most people understand that a conviction in criminal court could lead to time spent in jail, paying a fine, or even being placed on probation, only savvy criminal defense lawyers will consider the potential collateral consequences that naturally flow from a conviction when plotting out the best defense strategy.
No one considers the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction until they are faced with them. Loss of a driver's license, job loss, difficulty finding work, loss of suitable housing, difficulty finding suitable housing, loss of educational opportunities, and difficulty obtaining approval for a mortgage are a few of the unforeseen consequences people convicted of even minor crimes could suffer. Additionally, a person convicted of a crime in St. Johns County, Florida, could lose the right to vote and possess firearms. Most tragically, a person convicted of certain crimes could lose the right to be a parent to a child and could render the individual inadmissible or excludable from the United States, even if the person is here legally.
When you call Musca Law at 888-484-5057 to consult with the firm's St. Johns County criminal defense lawyers, you learn why Musca Law is one of the premier criminal defense law firms in Florida and how they could best serve you.
Criminal Charges in St. Johns County, Florida
Florida law separates the severity of criminal offenses into misdemeanors, felonies, and capital felonies, and then establishes a system of punishment by degrees. Some crimes fall outside of this scheme, like some misdemeanor DUI offenses. Moreover, some Florida statutes set out a minimum-mandatory sentence as well. Using Florida's DUI statute as an example, DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a fifteen-year maximum prison term with a four-year minimum-mandatory prison sentence.
Chapter 775 of the Florida Statutes delineates the state's sentencing scheme as set out in the table below:
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
Judges are bound by the minimum and maximum sentences when punishing an individual convicted of a crime. Florida uses a criminal sentencing scoresheet that judges review to arrive at an appropriate sentence. Florida's criminal sentencing scoresheet allows the judge to calculate an appropriate sentence for an offender based on the severity of the crime, the previous criminal history of the accused, victim injuries, victim input, as well as individual characteristics of the person to be sentenced.
Judges have the authority to reduce the score, and thereby reduce the sentence if the judge believes that certain factors weigh in favor of the accused. Similarly, the judge could make the sentence longer if the judge finds that an upward move is necessary for the given circumstances.
That is why having a strong advocate in every stage of the criminal process is vitally important. A lawyer who understands howdy Florida sending score sheet works can help an individual facing prison sentence receive a shorter sentence through excellent client advocacy alone.
Crimes Commonly Charged in St. Johns County, Florida
Defense of Controlled Substance Charges in St. Johns County, Florida
Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes is the state's controlled substances act. Accordingly, Chapter 893 divides controlled substances into schedules, like most states and the U.S. government. The most serious narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, and opium, fall into Schedule I. Schedule I drugs are considered to be extremely dangerous or highly addictive.
Florida law punishes narcotics offenses harshly. Section 893.13 of the Florida Statutes lists narcotics-related crimes and the punishment for these offenses, specifically noting when minimum-mandatory sentences must be imposed. The law is convoluted. Therefore, representation by a highly-experienced and accomplished St. Johns County criminal defense lawyer could help the person struggling with addiction or selling drugs to support a drug habit avoid prison and enter alternative sentences such as:
- Drug Court,
- Drug counseling, either inpatient or on an outpatient basis,
- Referrals to dual-diagnosis treatment if appropriate, and
- Probationary terms instead of going to jail or prison with conditions designed to help the individual beat a drug habit.
First-time offenders usually receive the benefit of drug court and treatment options as alternative sentences. Musca Law's St. Johns County criminal defense lawyers understand what it means to struggle with addiction. Therefore, they fight hard to convince a judge that treatment rather than incarceration is the best option.
Musca Law's St. Johns County criminal defense lawyers have vast experience vigorously defending their clients who are facing drug crimes. Musca Law's attorneys have represented clients facing drug charges like:
- Simple possession of drugs (rather than distribution or trafficking) like marijuana, heroin, fentanyl, crystal methamphetamine, morphine, cocaine, and prescription medications, in addition to synthetic narcotics;
- Possession of drugs or narcotics accompanied by the intention to distribute, sell, or trade,
- Trafficking in narcotics;
- Conspiracy to violate Florida's controlled substance act; and
- Possession of paraphernalia designed to help consume drugs.
Domestic Violence Charges in St. Johns County
Domestic violence specifically refers to a violent criminal act committed against another when the alleged perpetrator and alleged victims are members of the same family or household. Florida Statutes §741.28 defines domestic violence as assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual battery, false imprisonment, stalking, kidnapping, and sexual assault as a crime falling under the rubric of domestic violence. Additionally, any crime, such as murder or manslaughter, could be acts of domestic violence.
Not all relationships qualify for the label of domestic violence. Relationships such as spouses, former spouses, parents and children, people who have a child together although they have never lived together, people who lived together as a family, and those people who currently reside together as a family. In-law relationships also qualify for prosecution under Florida's domestic violence statute.
Facing prosecution for a domestic violence crime in St. Johns County could result in the offender receiving a jail or prison sentence, especially if the violent act causes an injury. An individual convicted of a crime of domestic violence could be fined as well. Perhaps more importantly, the offender will be obligated to complete a certified batterer's program, surrender firearms and ammunition, and could be forbidden by the court to have any contact with the alleged victim. That could mean the person charged with domestic violence might not be able to see or speak with his or her children or other family members.
Sexual Offenses in St. Johns County, Florida
Musca Law's St. Johns County criminal defense attorneys have had significant experience representing clients who must face sex offenses. These are tough cases, especially when the allegations involve the abuse of children. However, each person charged with a crime, even sex offenses, enjoys the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence remains with that person unless or until the state proves the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.
Musca Law's St. Johns County sex crime defense lawyers know how to create defenses using different tactics depending on the case. Representation by a lawyer with experience to aggressively create a defense could expose biases, exaggerations, and outright lies. It is not easy to imagine why someone would fabricate a sex crime, but it does happen.
Musca Law's St. Johns County sex crime defense lawyers have defended charges such as:
- Human trafficking,
- Sexual assault,
- Sexual battery,
- Solicitation of prostitution,
- Committing lewd and lascivious acts,
- Prostitution, and
- Sex crimes against children like possession of child pornography.
A person convicted of a Florida sex offense could be sentenced to a long period of incarceration. Moreover, the offender will be obligated to register as a sex offender, and the individual might be prosecuted as a sexual predator. Therefore, acquiring representation from a highly-skilled and highly-motivated St. Johns County defense lawyer is critically important to protecting your future.
DUI Charges in St. Johns County
Driving under the influence is a profoundly serious criminal offense. Law enforcement officers go out of their way to enforce Florida's DUI laws, and often they trample all over the federal and state constitutional rights of the people they arrest for DUI. Musca Law's DUI defense lawyers will vigorously challenge the arresting officer's actions so expose the weak points of the government's case in an attempt to win a dismissal or acquittal for their clients' DUI cases.
Beyond driving under the influence, other DUI charges in St. Johns County include:
- DUI with an accident inflicting serious bodily injury,
- DUI with a blood- or breath-alcohol level of 0.15,
- DUI with a person younger than eighteen in the vehicle,
- DUI manslaughter,
- DUI with prior offenses,
- DUI with a crash resulting in property damage or a minor personal injury, and
- Driving a commercial vehicle under the influence.
Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes, in detail, provides the punishments for DUI crimes in Florida. The punishments are extremely harsh, even for a first-time offender, many of whom have no criminal history whatsoever. The first-time offender could be sent to jail for up to six months, be on probation for a year, and face driver's license suspension. Moreover, the court must impose 50 hours of community service and order the person to complete DUI school.
The punishments become progressively more severe as the offenses become more severe. For instance, a fourth or subsequent offense DUI is a five-year felony. Additionally, the punishments are more severe for aggravating factors like DUI with a blood- or breath-alcohol level of 0.15%.
Theft Crimes in St. Johns County
Crimes involving theft, as defined in Florida Statutes §812.014, run the gamut between misdemeanors and felonies. The distinction is whether the alleged perpetrator used violence to complete the crime, or the value of the property taken from the victim exceeds a certain threshold. Theft offenses carry potentially long jail or prison sentences. Also, the sentencing judge could impose restitution as a part of the punishment.
Theft offenses charged in St. Johns County include:
- Robbery (See, F.S. §812.13);
- Petit Theft;
- Grand Theft;
- Burglary (See, F.S. §810.02);
- Embezzlement; and
- Identity Theft (See, F.S. §817.568).
Violent crimes often involve highly-complex legal issues as well as highly technical expert testimony. Only a criminal defense attorney with sufficient training can effectively defend individuals facing violent crimes. Musca Law's St. Johns County criminal defense lawyers have defended people facing severe prison sentences for committing violent crimes. They understand the technical issues involved, along with the complex legal issues that accompany violent crime investigations.
Law enforcement investigators and seasoned prosecutors fight for tough prison sentences for violent crimes like:
- Murder (F.S. §782.04);
- Manslaughter (F.S. §782.07);
- Vehicular Manslaughter (F.S. §782.071);
- Robbery (F.S. §812.13);
- Attempted Murder (F.S. §782.051);
- Rape or Sexual Battery (F.S. § 794.011);
- Aggravated Battery (F.S. §784.045);
- Arson (F.S. §806.01); and
- Assault and Battery (F.S. §784.011 and F.S. §784.03).
White Collar Crimes and Cyber Crimes in St. Johns County
White-collar crimes simply refer to a lack of violence used to take another's property. Crimes such as identity theft, fraud, theft, stock fraud, insider trading, embezzlement, gambling, racketeering, bribery, and other crimes are non-violent acts that either perpetrate a fraud on someone or helps someone obtain a privilege without merit. The U.S. Attorneys Offices in Florida are equipped to handle larger white-collar crime investigations. On the other hand, local police and state's attorneys will prosecute charges involving elderly, or state Medicare fraud, as an example.
Cybercrimes are on the rise. More and more individuals are logged on the internet, digital devices, and technology to commit crimes. Law enforcement officers are working feverishly to catch up with the technology that moves at the speed of light. Investigators are using this technology to capture individuals using the internet to run a prostitution ring, for trafficking human beings, pursuing purveyors of child pornography, identity thieves, credit card thieves, and other criminal acts.
Having a defense attorney from Musca Law who understands technology and the constitutional issues surrounding unlawful searches and seizures could make the difference between remaining free and serving hard time in a Florida or federal penitentiary.
Juvenile Delinquency Charges
Juvenile justice is a rapidly-evolving area of the law. Researchers only recently determined that humans' brains continue to grow for much longer than once believed. Male brains mature around 26, while female brains mature a few years younger. For many, these developments mean that most children cannot appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct and, therefore, do not deserve to be locked up.
Parents of children who have strayed and become involved in the criminal justice system need to be reassured that their children's lives are not lost simply because they were arrested. By arguing for alternative sentencing programs, juveniles in St. Johns County represented by lawyers from Musca Law could attend classes and perform community service and participate in counseling instead of going to juvenile hall.
Protective injunctions are not criminal matters, per se, but they do implicate Florida's criminal law frequently. To obtain a protective order, the alleged abuse victim of a violent offense or a person who is in fear of becoming a victim of a violent act petitions the court for an order to prevent abuse. However, these well-intended judicial vehicles are used as a way to get revenge on another. Therefore, anyone facing a protective injunction needs to defend these allegations. Musca Law's St. Johns County injunction defense lawyers have defended clients facing criminal charges as well as protective injunctions such as:
- Domestic Violence;
- Sexual Violence;
- Dating Violence; and
- Repeat Violence.
A person living under the restrictions of an injunction could face jail time for violating a court order. Also, the person must give up his or her firearms and ammunition for the duration of the order. Further, the judge can make any order necessary to protect the petitioner, such as order a stay away and no contact provisions, GPS monitoring, and staying away from designated locations. Fighting a petition for a protective injunction is the only way to remain free from a judge's orders.
Contact Musca Law for Your Free Case Review
Contact a St. Augustine defense attorney right now at 888-484-5057 to talk with them about your St. Johns County criminal case. Get the defense you deserve. Contact us now to learn more about your legal rights and options.