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Violent Crimes


These are crimes where a victim is harmed by or threatened with violence. In the simplest terms, violent crimes are crimes that involve force or threat of force. Some common examples of violent crimes that our law firm can handle for you include assault, battery, rape, robbery, etc.




Assault

Assault is an attempt to cause harm to another person where the violent act is never committed or completed. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.011), an assault is defined as an intentional, unlawful threat by words or act to do violence to the person of another coupled with an apparent ability to do so and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in the victim. There are different degrees of assault and punishment of each depends on their degree.

To prove the crime of assault, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to victim.

  2. At the time, defendant appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat.

  3. The act of defendant created in the mind of victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.


Penalties/Punishment for Crime of Assault

Under Florida law assault is a 2nd-degree misdemeanor punishable by:

Up to 60 days in jail or

Up to 6-month probation and/or

Up to $500 fine and court cost


Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is an attempt to cause harm to another person with the use of a deadly weapon or intent to commit a felony where the violent act is never committed. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.021), aggravated assault is defined as an intentional and unlawful threat against another person with a deadly weapon or while in the commission of a felony, which creates a reasonable fear that violence or harm is imminent. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) estimate that in 2020, over 60,567 aggravated assaults were reported in Florida.

A weapon is deadly if used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm.

To prove the crime of aggravated assault, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. Defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to victim.

  2. At the time, defendant appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat.

  3. The act of defendant created in the mind of victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.

  4. The assault was made with a deadly weapon, or the assault was made with a fully formed, conscious intent to commit felony charged upon victim.


Penalties/Punishment for Aggravated Assault

In Florida, the crime of aggravated assault is a third-degree felony, punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison or

Up to 5 years of probation, and

Up to a $5,000 fine.

Note: this punishment can increase substantially to include mandatory prison sentence beyond the five years where a gun is discharged during commission of the crime or where defendants have length criminal history.


Common Defenses to Crime of Assault and Aggravated Assault

Unreasonable fear: it is a defense where the victim did not actually believe the defendant would follow through with the threat and the victim did not genuinely fear that he or she would be harmed.

Conditional threat: making a threat to harm someone in the future does not constitute assault or aggravated assault because the threat is not imminent.

Idle threat: A mere idle threat, unaccompanied by any physical act that substantiates a belief that the person will actually follow through with the threat, does not constitute an assault or aggravated assault.


Battery


Battery is the touching of another person in a harmful or offensive way without their consent or against their will. To prove the crime of Battery under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.03), the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant actually and intentionally touched or struck victim against his or her will.

  2. Defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to victim.


Penalty/Punishment for the Crime of Battery

In Florida there are different categories of battery and the punishment for each depends on the victim involved, the kind of battery, whether a weapon was used, and/or the kind of injury involved. In Florida simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by:

Up to 364 days in jail

Up to 12 months of probation

Up to $1,000.00 in fines.


Felony Battery

Felony battery is the touching of another person in a harmful or offensive way without their consent or against their will, which results in great bodily harm. Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.041), a person commits felony battery by actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against their will; and causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.

To prove the crime of felony battery, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1, Defendant actually and intentionally touched or struck victim against his or her will; and

2, Defendant caused victim great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.


Penalty/Punishment for Felony Battery

Under Florida law, the crime of felony battery is a third-degree felony, punishable by

Up to 5 years in prison or

Up to 5 years of probation, and

Up to $5,000 fine.


Battery By Strangulation

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.041(2)(A), a person commits domestic battery by strangulation if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship, so as to create a risk or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person.

To prove the crime of domestic battery by strangulation, the State/ Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant knowingly and intentionally impeded the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of victim against his or her will by applying pressure on the throat or neck of victim or by blocking the nose or mouth of victim.

  2. In so doing, defendant created a risk of great bodily harm to victim caused great bodily harm to victim.

  3. Defendant was a family or household member of victim or in a dating relationship with victim.


Aggravated Battery

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.045), there are three different circumstance that can transform a common battery into aggravated battery:1) whether a weapon was used during the commission of the battery, 2) whether the victim was pregnant, and 3) whether the battery resulted in great bodily injury. To prove the crime of aggravated battery, the State/ Prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant actually and intentionally touched or struck victim against his or her will, or intentionally caused bodily harm to victim.

  2. Defendant, in committing the battery, intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm to the victim or used a deadly weapon.


Penalty/Punishment for Aggravated Battery

Under Florida law, (Florida statutes 784.045(2), aggravated battery is generally classified as a second-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison or

Up to 15 years of probation, and

Up to $10,000.00 in fines.


Battery On an Elderly Person

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.08 (2)(C), to prove the crime of battery of an elderly person the prosecutor doesn’t necessarily need to prove that defendant actually knew the victim was 65 years of age or older. It is not a defense to the crime that you did not know the alleged victim was 65 years of age or older. To prove the crime of battery on an elderly person, the State/ Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim against his or her will or

  2. The defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim; and

  3. The victim was 65 years of age or older.

Penalty/Punishment for Battery on An Elderly Person

Under Florida law (Florida statute 784.08), the penalties for assault or battery are reclassified when the victim is 65 years of age or older. Below is the reclassification of the crime where the victim is 65 year or older.

In the case of assault from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a misdemeanor of the first degree.

In the case of battery from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree.

In the case of aggravated assault from a felony of the third degree to a felony of the second degree.

In the case of aggravated battery from a felony of the second degree to a felony of the first degree.

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.08(1), if a person is convicted of an aggravated assault or aggravated battery upon a person 65 years of age or older. The court must impose a minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of not more than $10,000. The court must also order restitution to the victim if necessary and may require Defendant to perform community service work.


Battery On a Pregnant Person

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.045(1)(b), battery on a pregnant woman is the intentional touching, striking, or infliction of any bodily harm on a pregnant woman by someone who knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant. To prove the crime of aggravated battery or battery on a pregnant woman the State/ Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant actually and intentionally touched or struck victim against her will or intentionally caused bodily harm to victim.

2. Victim was pregnant at the time.

3. Defendant in committing the battery knew or should have known that victim was pregnant.

Penalty/Punishment for Battery on A Pregnant Person

The crime of battery on a pregnant female elevates a misdemeanor charge of simple battery to a second-degree felony.

Under Florida law, battery on a pregnant woman is generally classified as a second-degree felony. Punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison or

Up to 15 years of probation, and

Up to $10,000.00 in fine

Absent mitigating circumstance to warrant downward departure, a conviction for battery on a pregnant woman carries a 21-month mandatory minimum sentence in prison.

Battery On A Law Enforcement Officer

Under Florida law (Florida statutes 784.07), to prove the crime of battery on a law enforcement officer the Prosecutor /State must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim against his or her will or caused bodily harm to the victim.

  2. The victim was a law enforcement officer or working in another protected profession.

  3. Defendant knew the victim was a law enforcement officer or in another protected profession.

  4. The victim was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties when the battery was committed.

Note: The term “law enforcement officer” is very broad and it includes more than just police officers, it also includes any of the following (Emergency Medical Care Provider/ Paramedics, Federal Law Enforcement Officer, Firefighter, Parking Enforcement Specialist, Security Officer Employed by the Board of Trustees of a Community College, Traffic Accident Investigation Officer, and Traffic Infraction Enforcement Officer).


Penalty/Punishment for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

Battery on a law enforcement officer is classified as a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison or

Up to 5 years of probation, and

Up to a $5,000 fine.

Where the conduct of the defendant is aggravated using deadly weapon or battery resulted in serious bodily injury, the crime is considered a first-degree felony which is punishable by

Up to 30 years in prison

Up to 30 years probation

Up to a $10,000 fine.

If convicted, it carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in prison.

Common Defenses to Battery Cases

Self-defense is applicable to the charge of battery so long as it is used to protect yourself or someone else.

Involuntary action this defense applies in situations where there is involuntary action by the defendant’s body.

Incidental touching: unintentional touching does not meet the requirement for battery.

Lack of knowledge: in order to convict a defendant of the crime of battery the State /Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the alleged victim was a law enforcement officer or pregnant.

Officer not engaged in lawful duty: The State/ Prosecutor must prove that at the time of the battery, the officer was lawfully performing his legal duty. Meaning the battery occurred while the officer was on duty as a law enforcement officer. It is important to note that a person is not justified in the use of force to resist an arrest by a law enforcement officer who is known, or reasonably appears, to be a law enforcement officer. Even if the arrest is illegal, the use of force by a defendant is not justified.


Robbery

Under Florida law (Florida statute 812.13), robbery means the taking of money or other property which maybe the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or threat. In Florida there are different kinds of categories of robbery, and the nature of the robbery will determine the punishment.

To prove the crime of robbery, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following four (4) elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant took money or property described in charge from the person or custody of another.

  2. Force, violence, assault, or putting in fear was used in the course of the taking.

  3. The property taken was of some value.

  4. The taking was with the intent to permanently or temporarily [deprive (victim) of [his] [her] right to the property or any benefit from it] [appropriate the property of (victim) to [his] [her] own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it].

For the sake of this statutes, the taking must be by the use of force or violence so as to overcome the resistance of a person, or by putting a person in fear so that he or she does not resist. The law does not require the force, violence, assault, or putting in fear to be exerted against the victim from whom the property was taken. It is enough if the force, violence, assault, or putting in fear was exerted against another in the course of the taking.

The law does not require that a victim of robbery resist to any particular extent or that a victim offer any actual physical resistance if the circumstances are such that a victim is placed in fear of death or great bodily harm, if he or she does resist. But unless prevented by fear, there must be some resistance to make the taking one done by force or violence.


Penalty/Punishment for Robbery (Strong Arm Robbery)

The punishment may change depending on how much a person is scoring on CPC (scoresheet) which is based on their prior criminal history. It is important to note that the use of weapon or injury to victim may increase the potential punishment if convicted of this crime. Robbery also referred as strong-arm robbery is a second-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 15 years in prison.

Up to 15 years of probation.

Up to $10,000 in fines.


Robbery By Sudden Snatching

Under Florida law (Florida statute 812.131), robbery by sudden snatching is committed when a person intentionally and unlawfully takes money or property from another person’s body. There is no requirement of force, violence, or threat in other for a person to be convicted of this crime. To prove the crime of Robbery by Sudden Snatching, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant took the money or property described in charge from the person of (victim).

  2. The property taken was of some value.

  3. The taking was with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive (victim) or the owner of [his] [her] right to the property.

  4. In the course of the taking, (victim) was or became aware of the taking.

It is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant used any amount of force beyond that effort necessary to obtain possession of the money or other property, that there was any resistance offered by the victim or that there was any injury to the victim’s person.

In order for a taking to be robbery by sudden snatching, it is not necessary that the person robbed be the actual owner of the property. It is sufficient if the victim has possession of the property at the time of the offense.


Penalty/Punishment for Robbery by Sudden Snatching

The crime of robbery by sudden snatching is a third-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 5 years in prison.

Up to 5 years of probation.

Up to $5,000 in fines.

Firearm and Deadly Weapon Enhancement (Florida Statutes 775.087), If a firearm or deadly weapon was possessed while committing a robbery by sudden snatching, even if the firearm or deadly weapon was not used, the crime becomes a second-degree felony. A conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of 21 months in prison and can also impose any combination of the following penalties:

Up to 15 years in prison.

Up to 15 years of probation.

Up to $10,000 in fines.

10/20/Life Firearm Enhancement (Florida statutes 775.087), If a firearm was possessed while in the commission of a robbery by sudden snatching, a person can also be sentenced under Florida’s 10/20/ life statute. Under this statute a person charged with robbery by sudden snatching while in possession of a firearm could receive a minimum 10-year prison term.


Robbery With A Deadly Weapon

Under Florida law (Florida statute 812.13(1)-(2)(b), robbery with a deadly weapon is committed when a person intentionally and unlawfully takes money or property from another person through the use of force, violence, assault, or threat while in possession of a deadly weapon.

A deadly weapon is any object, other than a firearm, that will likely cause death or great bodily harm if used in the ordinary and usual manner contemplated by its design and construction.


Penalty/Punishment for Robbery with a Deadly Weapon

The crime of robbery with a deadly weapon is a first-degree felony, punishable by

Up to 30 years in prison.

Up to 30 years of probation.

Up to $10, 000 in fines.

A conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of 34 ½ months in prison absent mitigating circumstance to warrant a downward departure sentence.


Robbery With A Firearm

Under Florida law (Florida statute 812.13(1)-(2)(a), the crime of Robbery with a firearm is committed when a person intentionally and unlawfully takes money or property from another person through the use of force, violence, assault, or threat while in possession of a firearm. The mere possession of the firearm is all that is required to be convicted for this crime.

A firearm means any weapon (including a starter gun) which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; any destructive device; or any machine gun. [The term firearm does not include an antique firearm unless the antique firearm is used in the commission of a crime.]


Penalty/Punishment for Robbery with a Firearm

Under Florida law (Florida statute 812.13(1)-(2)(a), the crime of Robbery with a firearm is a first-degree felony punishable by:

Up to life in prison.

Up to life on probation.

Up to $15,000 in fines.

10/20/Life Firearm Enhancement (Florida Statute 775.087(2)(a)(1), a person convicted of possessing a firearm during the commission of a robbery is subject to being sentenced under Florida’s 10/ 20/ Life statute. Under this statute and depending on how the firearm was used, a person convicted of robbery with a firearm could receive one of the following minimum-mandatory prison sentences:

A minimum of 10-year prison term if in possession of a firearm.

A minimum 20-year prison term if the firearm was discharged; and

A minimum 25-year prison term if someone is injured or killed by the firearm.


Home Invasion Robbery

Under Florida law (Florida statute 812.135), the crime of home invasion robbery is committed when a person enters a dwelling of another with the intent to unlawfully take money or property from the occupants through the use of force, violence, assault, or threat. To prove the crime of home-invasion robbery, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant entered the dwelling of (victim).

  2. At the time defendant entered the dwelling, [he] [she] intended to commit robbery.

  3. While inside the dwelling, defendant did commit robbery.

    1. A Robbery consists of the following:

      1. Defendant took [the] [a] [an] (money or property described in charge) from the person or custody of (person alleged).

      2. Force, violence, assault, or putting in fear was used in the course of the taking.

      3. The property taken was of some value.

      4. The taking was with the intent to permanently or temporarily [deprive (victim) of [his] [her] right to the property or any benefit from it] [appropriate the property of (victim) to [his] [her] own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it].


Penalty/Punishment for Home Invasion Robbery

The crime of home invasion robbery is a first-degree felony, punishable by:

Up to 30 years in prison.

Up to 30 years of probation.

Up to $10,000 in fines.

A conviction for home invasion robbery carries a minimum prison sentence of 34½ months.

If a weapon is used in the commission of a home invasion robbery, the crime becomes punishable by up to life in prison and carries a minimum prison sentence of 66 months in prison.

Under Florida Statute 775.087(2)(a)(1), a person convicted of actually possessing a firearm during the commission of a home invasion robbery is subject to being sentenced under Florida’s 10/20/Life statute. Under this statute, and depending on how the firearm was used, a person convicted of home invasion robbery could receive one of the following minimum-mandatory prison sentences:

A minimum of 10-year in prison if in possession of a firearm.

A minimum of 20-year in prison if the firearm was discharged; and

A minimum of 25-year in prison if someone is injured or killed by a firearm.


Carjacking

Under Florida law (Florida statute 812.133), the crime of carjacking is committed when a person intentionally and unlawfully takes another person’s motor vehicle through the use of force, violence, assault, or threat. To prove the crime of carjacking, the State/Prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant took a motor vehicle from the person or custody of (person alleged).

  2. Force, violence, assault, or putting in fear was used in the course of the taking.

  3. The taking was with the intent to temporarily or permanently [deprive (victim) of [his] [her] right to the motor vehicle or any benefit from it] [appropriate the motor vehicle of (victim) to [his] [her] own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it].

In order for a taking of the motor vehicle to be carjacking, it is not necessary that the person carjacked be the owner of the motor vehicle. It is sufficient if the person has custody of the motor vehicle at the time of the offense.


Penalty/Punishment for Carjacking

The crime of carjacking is a first-degree felony punishable by:

Up to 30 years in prison.

Up to 30 years of probation.

Up to $10,000 in fines.

A conviction for carjacking carries a minimum prison sentence of 21 months in prison absent mitigating circumstance to warrant a downward departure sentence.

If a weapon is used in the commission of the carjacking, the crime becomes punishable by up to life in prison with a minimum prison sentence of 48 months in prison.

Under Florida law (Statute 775.087(2)(a)(1), a person convicted of actually possessing a firearm during the commission of a carjacking is subject to being sentenced under Florida’s 10/20/Life statute. Under this statute, and depending on how the firearm was used, a person convicted of carjacking would receive one of the following minimum-mandatory prison sentences:

A minimum of 10-year in prison if in possession of a firearm.

A minimum of 20-year in prison if the firearm was discharged; and

A minimum of 25-year in prison if someone is injured or killed by the firearm.


Common Defenses to Robbery

Claim of right defense: this defense can be used where the taker/defendant has a good faith belief that he or she is the owner, or is entitled to immediate possession, of the property in question.

Afterthought defense: this defense can be used where taking of property occurred as an afterthought to the use of force or violence. The taking may still be charged as a lesser crime of theft or robbery by sudden snatching. An example is seen where after a fight one person takes the property of another, the taking of the property was an afterthought not the main reason for the fight.

Mere presence defense: this defense can be used if you are out with a friend who spontaneously commits a robbery, you cannot be convicted as an accomplice unless it can be shown you did something in furtherance of the robbery.

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