Data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) shows that violent crime in Florida has been reduced considerably from the levels of 20 years ago, but remains high. In 2013, The FDLE reported a total of 91,703 violent crimes: over 57,000 aggravated assaults, more than 23,000 robberies, almost 10,000 forcible sex offenses, and slightly fewer than 1,000 murders. If you need an experienced violent crimes attorney in St. Petersburg, FL, Will Hanlon is here to help you.
Public outcry against criminal behavior, especially violent behavior, gives law enforcement tremendous incentive to clear cases of violent crimes; each case in which police make an arrest improves public opinion of area law enforcement. But too much incentive for an arrest can easily lead to arrests that are not based on good evidence of guilt.
It’s up to a St. Petersburg violent crimes lawyer to ensure that justice prevails over expediency in Florida.Severe Penalties
Not only can haste to close a case result in innocent people going to prison for violent crimes, those who are wrongly convicted go to prison for lengthy periods, because violent crimes carry the harshest penalties.
The specific penalty varies considerably from one crime to another, but all violent crimes carry potentially severe penalties that completely change the course of the defendant’s life if convicted. All carry the potential for prison sentences of several years to life, with the death penalty possible for capital crimes.
Crimes involving violence are singled out for stiff penalties for two reasons:
- To keep violent criminals off the street longer
- To deter criminals from committing violence
In practical terms, a third reason is to ease public pressure on law enforcement and the justice system.Defenses
Defenses to violent crimes in St. Petersburg generally fall into one of three categories:
- Various “affirmative defense,” in which the defendant admits committing the acts charged, but claims that there was good reason for doing so (i.e., the defendant did punch the victim several times, but only because the victim was trying to stab him).
- Defenses that admit the facts charged but deny that those facts amount to the crime charged (i.e., the defendant did argue with the victim, but that argument did not make the victim fear for his life).
- Defenses that deny the facts as charged (i.e., the defendant did not fire a pistol as the state claims).
Florida laws on violent crimes are complex, with numerous aggravating factors that bump a crime to a higher degree, relatively new and complex laws such as the controversial “stand your ground” defense, and technical elements that must be proved in order to convict you.
There is no time to waste if you have been charged with a violent crime in Florida. The sooner you get the help of an experienced St. Petersburg violent crimes lawyer, the better your chances of avoiding conviction and, if convicted, minimizing the penalty. If you are simply being investigated and haven’t yet been charged, getting experienced help is your best chance to avoid having charges filed.
Apart from the defenses discussed above, a few of the major tasks with which an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer’s help is invaluable include:
- Making sure the prosecutors live up to their legal obligations when it comes to time limits, bail, and other crucial procedural issues;
- Evaluating the wisdom of accepting a plea deal;
- Ensuring that prosecution discloses all exculpatory evidence;
- Identifying and bringing out inconsistent testimony from adverse witnesses (what the witness says now is not what the witness said before);
- Identifying and bringing out material bias on the part of key witnesses, such as when the witness has a deal with the prosecution for dismissal of charges, a lighter sentence, etc.
Criminal law is the only kind of law that William Hanlon practices. He has been handling these cases aggressively and successfully for 20 years in St. Petersburg and the surrounding areas. Take no chances with your life and freedom. If you are or may be charged with a violent crime, get your defense started here: call Will Hanlon today.
- Aggravated Assault Charges
- Aggravated Battery Causing Deadly Harm
- Aggravated Battery With A Deadly Weapon
- Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon 784.045 (2)
- Battery On Law Enforcement
- Felony Battery Charge
- Gun Crime
- Resisting an Officer with Violence
- Resisting an Officer Without Violence
- Stand Your Ground Statute
Violent crimes include murder, forcible sexual offenses like rape, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and robbery. These are crimes that prosecutors take very seriously. Often, they try to hasten an investigation, even when the penalties upon a conviction are extremely harsh. If you are charged with a violent crime, you should consult experienced St. Petersburg violent crime lawyer Will Hanlon, who is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused. It is crucial to involve an attorney on your side at the earliest possible stage, even during the investigation if possible.Violent Crimes Under Florida Law
Specific penalties for violent crimes vary depending on what the crime is, but in most cases, the penalties are very severe and can be life-altering. They may include many years of incarceration and, in the case of capital offenses, possibly the death penalty.
For example, aggravated assault is a third-degree felony for which you can face up to five years’ incarceration or probation and a $5,000 fine. Even first-time offenders can face the possibility of going to prison. To establish aggravated assault under section 784.021, a prosecutor will need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intentionally and unlawfully threatened by word or act to do violence to the alleged victim, the accused seemed to have the ability to carry out the threat at the time, the threat instigated a well-founded fear that violence was about to occur, and the assault was made with the fully developed intent to perpetrate a felony. A violent crime attorney in St. Petersburg can help you determine whether you may be able to attack any of these elements.
For another example, the crime of aggravated sexual battery against someone 18 or older is a first-degree felony. If there is no basis to impose a downward departure sentence, a judge is supposed to sentence someone convicted of aggravated sexual battery on someone over 18 to a minimum prison sentence of 94.5 months and can also impose up to 30 years of incarceration or 30 years of sex offender probation, as well as a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
To establish aggravated sexual battery, the prosecutor will need to show that the defendant had vaginal, anal, or oral contact with someone else using an object or sexual organ, and an aggravating circumstance was present. Aggravating circumstances include physical helplessness, coercion into submission through threats of force or violence likely to create serious injuries, or coercion into submission through threats of retaliation against the victim or someone else, when the victim reasonably believed that the offender had the ability to follow through on the threat. Also, an aggravating circumstance can apply when a victim was non-consensually and unknowingly drugged into incapacitation, the victim was assaulted because of a known mental defect, the victim was physically incapacitated, or the perpetrator was a law enforcement officer, correctional probation officer, correctional officer, or someone who was in a position of control or authority or reasonably believed to be in a position of authority or control as a governmental agent or employee.
It can be overwhelming to be accused of a violent crime, but a St. Petersburg violent crime attorney often can raise a strong defense to fight a charge of committing a crime like rape, felony battery, or murder. Sometimes, it is appropriate to focus on procedural defenses to get evidence suppressed when possible. In other cases, more substantive defenses like Stand Your Ground may be available. If a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney gets involved early, it may be possible to persuade the prosecutor based on the circumstances that a lesser charge is appropriate, or a plea deal should be struck that involves a lighter sentence.Consult a Resourceful Violent Crime Lawyer in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is considered more dangerous than many nearby cities in Florida and many other cities of a similar size in the U.S. If you are seeking a tough and skillful lawyer to fight serious criminal charges, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or complete our online form.