Assault & Battery
Assault and battery are used interchangeably, but there is a distinction when it comes to legal terminology. Assault involves placing a victim in fear of bodily harm with threats. Battery is actual contact and injuries.
Domestic violence involves a violent crime committed against a family member, spouse, or person you are dating. Police officers responding to a domestic violence call usually arrest someone. Sometimes, they arrest the wrong person.
In domestic abuse cases, a common scenario occurs when the victim does not want to press charges. The state can still move forward with the case whether or not the victim wants to testify. However, prosecutors will consider how the victim feels and often dismiss the charges if the victim does not wish to testify.
Violent Crime Penalties
Penalties for violent crimes include prison, fines, community service, restitution, and more. Violent crime offenders in Florida pay restitution, or compensation, to victims for losses related to the crime.
Punishments for violent crimes depend on several factors, including:
- Severity of inflicted injuries
- Use of a weapon
- Prior criminal history
- Age and status of the victim (police officer, firefighter, or first responder)
Reclassification of Violent Crimes
Violent crimes against a firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical provider result in an enhanced sentence.
You must “knowingly” commit a violent crime against one of these types of victims to be found guilty of an enhanced crime based on victim status. However, you might not know that the victim is a police officer if they are undercover. The state must prove that you were unaware of the officer’s true identity.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Violent Crimes
A misdemeanor charge is less severe than a felony. Depending on the type of crime and the charge level, you could still have a criminal record. Additional penalties might include registering as a sexual predator if convicted of a sex crime.
An aggravated violent charge involves more serious conduct because the crime involved a deadly weapon or occurred during the commission of another felony. For example, a robbery committed with a deadly weapon rather than a verbal threat is an aggravated charge.
Collateral Consequences of Violent Convictions
Violent crime convictions usually include prison, fines, probation, community service, or a combination. However, there are additional consequences that could follow you throughout your life.
Expungement – removing your criminal record from public searches – is possible for some crimes. A Tampa violent crime lawyer can determine if you are eligible for expungement.
Violent crimes appear on an employer’s background check. You might find it tough to get specific jobs or obtain professional licenses.
A violent crime conviction could affect your immigration status and lead to deportation. If you are not a naturalized citizen or entered the country illegally, tell your attorney. You could retain or earn citizenship despite being a former offender.
Child Custody and Divorce
Being convicted of a violent crime will almost certainly play a role in a child custody determination, especially if any minor children were present during the commission of the crime. Unfortunately, sometimes a parent makes false allegations of abuse or violence to gain an advantage in a custody battle.
Conviction of a violent crime can affect your right to carry or own a gun, even for home defense. Florida law prohibits a felon from possessing a firearm. A violent misdemeanor conviction could mean losing your concealed carry permit and your ineligibility to apply for such a license.
Your housing situation could be affected since many landlords run background checks as part of their screening process. A violent crime conviction could restrict you from qualifying for government housing assistance and other state benefits.
Defending Against Tampa Violent Crime Charges
We will carefully review the evidence in your case and develop the best defense under the circumstances based on all the facts. You have the right to a jury trial and a vigorous defense.
What Violent Crime Defenses Can Be Used?
The most common defenses to a violent crime charge include lack of evidence, non-cooperation of prosecution witnesses, the impeachment of witness credibility, and self-defense.
Self-defense is a common defense. A person may use force to defend themselves, another person, or property. Deadly force may only be used when necessary, such as when the alleged victim has threatened you or another person with deadly force.
Misconceptions About Self-Defense
A common misconception about self-defense is that you may use whatever force necessary to defend yourself if a person hits you first. Deadly force may only be used to prevent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another person or to prevent the commission of a serious felony.
Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law
In some states, you must retreat if you can do so without using force to defend yourself safely. Florida’s “stand your ground” law can bolster a claim of self-defense because you are not required to retreat once a person has threatened to use unlawful force against you.
However, using “stand your ground” as a defense requires that you:
- Are not engaged in criminal activity
- Did not instigate the altercation, and
- Were in a location where you were lawfully entitled to be.
How Can I Avoid a Violent Crime Conviction?
If the prosecution cannot prove all the elements of your case, you may be found not guilty. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. A Tampa criminal defense lawyer looks for weaknesses and inconsistencies to raise reasonable doubt.
One of the most effective ways to avoid a violent crime conviction is hiring a lawyer with a deep understanding of these cases. Attorney Metcalf has secured many legal victories for clients accused of violent crimes.
Florida Violent Crime FAQ
Being charged with a violent crime is a serious offense. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about violent crimes and their charges in Florida.
Please contact our office if you have more questions or schedule a consultation about your case.
What Should I Do if Accused of a Violent Crime?
The very first thing you should do is contact a criminal defense lawyer to represent you. Once you have legal representation, you can take steps to work on your defense strategy. This might mean gathering any evidence helpful to your case and analyzing the evidence the state claims to have against you. The consequences of a violent crime conviction are harsh. The worst thing you can do after being accused of a violent crime is to do nothing.
Should I Answer Questions From the Police?
Please don’t say anything to law enforcement or answer their questions without an attorney present. Anything that you say can be used against you at trial. As soon as you know that you’re a suspect in a violent crime, get an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.
Once you’ve retained legal representation, we can further discuss handling the charges against you, whether a plea agreement with the state or aggressively defending your innocence at trial.
What Happens If I’m Falsely Accused of a Violent Crime?
Law enforcement will investigate allegations even if they turn out to be false. Talk to a Tampa violent crimes lawyer instead of repeating that you are innocent or trying to get the alleged victim to retract their statement. Our legal team can analyze the charges against you and work toward clearing your name.
Will I Go to Prison If I’m Found Guilty of a Violent Crime?
Violent crimes carry severe penalties. You could be facing decades or even life in prison. You may or may not be eligible for parole. It all depends on the type of violent crime you have been charged with, whether you have a history of violent crime convictions, and other factors.
You must have a plausible and compelling defense ready to explain to the judge and jury so you can avoid these devastating penalties.
Can I Get a Violent Crime Conviction Expunged in Florida?
Although many different crimes are eligible for expungement in Florida, most violent crimes are considered felonies, which do not qualify for expungement. Suppose you have a previous conviction for a misdemeanor violent crime that isn’t domestic violence. In that case, you may be eligible to have your record sealed or expunged.
You can contact our office to learn more about whether you qualify and what you have to do to get your petition granted.
A Violent Crime Lawyer in Tampa Can Help You
If you are accused of a violent crime, speak to a Tampa violent crime attorney right away. Even if you are innocent, you need a skilled skilled defense attorney to protect your rights. Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A., has handled many different types of violent offenses successfully.
Don’t ever plead guilty without consulting a lawyer – we may find a way to clear your name of the charges against you.
Call Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A., at (813) 258-4800 to schedule a free consultation. Or fill out our quick contact form, and we will contact you.