Crimes Against Persons; Violent Felony Offenses
Crimes against persons–especially violent felony offenses–are among those taken most seriously by the criminal codes of the United States and the State of Florida. Because of the inherent threat to the life, health, and safety of the victims of violent crimes, those who are convicted of committing them are subject to much stiffer penalties than for non-violent offenses. Those penalties may be further increased if the perpetrator injures the victim during the event, displays or uses a firearm or other dangerous weapon, or has prior convictions for other offenses, whether or not they are similar to the offense in question.
Some of the most common crimes against persons under Florida law are summarized below. Unless otherwise specified, all of these offenses are classified as felonies. These and similar offenses are generally handled in state courts, unless they occur on Federal property, or are otherwise subject by law to U.S. jurisdiction.
While burglary is generally considered to be a crime against property, two versions of burglary qualify as violent crimes; so the generic definition is included here.
- Assault (Ch. 784.011, Florida Statutes)—A person commits assault via 1) 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 2) doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in the other person that such violence is imminent. Simple assault is a misdemeanor under Florida law. Aggravated assault occurs when the offender commits the assault with a deadly weapon (as defined under Florida law), or during the commission of some other crime. Aggravated assault is considered a violent felony under Florida law.
- Battery (Ch.784.03, Florida Statutes)—The offense of battery occurs when a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Simple battery is a misdemeanor under Florida law Aggravated battery occurs when the offender acts with the intent to inflict great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, or uses a deadly weapon. Aggravated battery is considered a violent felony under Florida law.
- Burglary (Ch. 810, Florida Statutes)—entering the vehicle, structure, or dwelling of another person, without permission, and with the intent to commit another crime while inside that vehicle, structure, or dwelling. Simple burglary is generally considered a property crime. Armed burglary involves a person committing a burglary while armed with a firearm or other deadly weapon, whether or not anyone is assaulted or struck with such weapon. Burglary with assault or battery involves a person committing a burglary, during which the offender commits an assault or battery on another person. Armed burglary and burglary with assault or battery are considered violent felony offenses under Florida law.
- Robbery (Chapter 812, Florida Statutes)—the taking of property of another by force, violence, assault, or putting the victim in fear of such force, violence, or assault. Robbery and burglary are often confused. For robbery, the key element is the taking of the property. For burglary, it is the unlawful entry and intent to commit another offense, which may or may not involve the taking of property within.
- Arson (Ch. 806, Florida Statutes)—the intentional burning of a structure which is known to be inhabited by another human being; is a place where persons are normally present; or is a dwelling, whether inhabited or not.
- Child abuse (Ch. 827, Florida Statutes)—intentional infliction of physical or mental injury on a child, or an intentional act that one knows is likely to inflict physical or mental injury on the child. Aggravated child abuse involves willful torture or malicious punishment of a child, or infliction of great bodily harm or permanent injury or disfigurement, due to knowing and willful abuse of the child.
- Kidnapping (Ch. 787, Florida Statutes)—the forcible or secret confinement of another person against his or her will, with the intent to hold the person for ransom or reward; to use them as a shield or hostage, or to force them to commit another felony; and the like.
- Sexual battery (Ch. 794, Florida Statutes)—see the Sexual Offenses section.
Any violent felony accusation is a weighty matter; the government will bring substantial resources to bear in any such prosecution. Often someone accused of a violent crime is not entitled to bail or other pretrial release, and thus will face months (or years) of confinement in a county jail while awaiting trial. If convicted, she will almost surely face substantial incarceration in the harsh conditions of an often-remote state prison. (If firearms are involved, a lengthy mandatory prison sentence will almost certainly be on the horizon.) As one can imagine, such imprisonment can have devastating effects, not only upon the accused, but upon her family, friends, co-workers, and other significant members of her community.
For this reason, anyone accused of a violent felony, or his or her loved ones, should reach out immediately to an attorney experienced in handling such major and often complex litigation. The Tony Moss Firm is available to assist; just call us at 877.547.9407, or e-mail us at Tony@TonyMossLaw.com.