Tampa Violent Crime Lawyer
According to the most recent statistics, Florida’s violent crime rate ranks 21st in the nation for the most number of offenses per capita, yet the state has the 14th highest imprisonment rate in the country. It is safe to assume that law enforcement officers are zealous when it comes to arresting and prosecuting people for violent crime offenses and seeking prison terms for those convicted. When it comes to an arrest for a violent crime, you need a lawyer on your side who is just as passionate about protecting your rights, ensuring you are treated fairly, and keeping you from being punished to the extent possible. Tampa violent crime lawyer Bryant Scriven is a former misdemeanor and felony prosecutor in Hillsborough County who is dedicated to getting positive results for you in your case. Call Scriven Law, P.A., for immediate assistance after an arrest for a violent crime in Tampa. Our office handles the full range of misdemeanor and felony offenses in Florida, including:
- Assault and aggravated assault
- Battery and aggravated battery
- Domestic violence
Actual Force Not Required for an Assault
Physical force or violence is not actually required to charge someone with assault. Assault is defined in Florida law as an “intentional, unlawful threat by word 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 such other person that such violence is imminent.” Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor. Aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill or with an intent to commit a felony. An aggravated assault is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. As with assault, the state can charge a person with aggravated assault even if no actual physical contact occurred.
Actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against their will or intentionally causing bodily harm is a battery under Florida law. Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, although a person can be charged with felony battery if they have a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery or felony battery.
Homicide in Florida
The main homicide laws in Florida are vehicular homicide, manslaughter and murder. Vehicular homicide is the killing of a human being or viable fetus caused by the operation of a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Florida law also recognizes a similar charge of vessel homicide as well for maritime deaths.
Manslaughter is the killing of a human being without lawful justification that is neither excusable homicide nor murder. Aggravated manslaughter can be charged when the victim is an elderly person or disabled adult, a child under 18 years old, or an emergency medical technician, paramedic or firefighter.
First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of a human being if the killing was premeditated or occurred during the commission or attempt to commit an enumerated felony (the “felony murder rule”). Second-degree murder can be charged in similar situations where the perpetrator showed a “depraved mind,” but the killing was not premeditated. The felony murder rule can also be used to charge someone with third-degree murder without having to show premeditation or a depraved mind.
What Defenses Are Available to Violent Crime Charges?
Many violent crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, and different degrees of misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts alleged. The range of penalties between misdemeanors and felonies and in the degrees among each category of offense are vast, and zealous prosecutors often charge more serious crimes in hopes of getting the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a trial. Whatever offense is charged, the state has to prove every element of that offense in order to secure a conviction. As your defense attorney, Bryant Scriven challenges the prosecution on every point where they have not met their burden of proof.
Common defenses that might be available in a violent crime case include:
- Defense of others
- Home protection
- Mistaken identity
- Coerced confession
- Police procedural errors
Even an aggressor who started a fight might be able to claim self-defense if the person withdrew in good faith and clearly indicated the desire to withdraw and stop the use of force, but the other party continued to use force. A similar defense exists if a person tried to escape danger without using force but could not.
An exception to this requirement to withdraw from a fight exists in the case of home protection, also known as Stand Your Ground.
Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law
Florida law authorizes the use of force, even deadly force, to protect yourself or another from harm while inside your residence. This law does not require you to retreat from the danger, even if you had the means to do so. The use of non-deadly force can be justified if you had a reasonable belief force was necessary to defend yourself or another from the imminent use of unlawful force. The use of deadly force can be justified if you had a reasonable belief force was necessary to prevent the imminent death or great bodily harm toward you or another or to prevent a forcible felony from being imminently committed.
Call Scriven Law After an Arrest for a Violent Crime in Tampa
If you’ve been arrested for a violent crime in Florida, from assault to murder, call Scriven Law, P.A., at 813-226-8522 to discuss your case with a skilled and knowledgeable Tampa violent crime lawyer. We’ll go to work right away protecting your rights and helping you achieve the best outcome possible in your circumstances.