Violent Crimes

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients charged with a variety of serious violent crimes in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, and the surrounding areas. Important defenses exist in these cases, including self-defense or Florida’s stand your ground protections.

Violent crimes involving allegations of mayhem or malice present unique challenges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors spend more time and resources on violent crimes. Jurors are often more likely to convict when someone is physically injured. The court can impose harsh penalties after a conviction.

For these reasons, criminal defense attorneys must work hard to fight these charges by crafting and litigating motions to uncover exculpatory evidence, suppressing unreliable eyewitness identifications, and presenting complex self-defense claims.

Attorneys for Violent Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you are charged with a crime of violence, then contact our attorneys today for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case in Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Polk County, Pinellas County, or Hernando County, FL.

Our attorneys are experienced in defending clients in prosecutions for serious felony and misdemeanor violent crimes. Let us put our experience to work for you. With offices in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, Clearwater in Pinellas County, and New Port Richey in Pasco County, we are here to help.

Contact us to discuss your case. Call (813) 250-0500.

Types of Violent Crimes in Florida

A crime of violence is an accusation that a person used violence or threatened to use violence on the victim. The charges and penalties are generally more serious if a weapon is used or if the victim suffered any injury. The following different types of charges are commonly prosecuted in Hillsborough County:

  • false imprisonment – Under § 787.02, Fla. Stat., false imprisonment means that a person, acting without legal authority to do so, forcibly, secretly or by threat either confined, abducted, imprisoned, or restrained the victim against the victim’s will;
  • domestic violence;
  • resisting an officer with violence;
  • battery on a law enforcement officer;
  • making a written threat to kill;
  • battery by strangulation; or

Enhanced penalties apply if the crime is classified as a hate crime, if the alleged victim was injured, or if a weapon or firearm was used in the commission of the offense.

Statistics on Violent Crimes by County

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report (FBI UCR) includes crime statistics classified for four different types of categories of crime considered “violent crimes,” including:

  • murder and non-negligent manslaughter;
  • forcible rape;
  • robbery; and
  • aggravated assault.

Aggravated assaults accounted for the highest number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement agencies. In fact, 62.4 percent of the reported crimes were aggravated assaults, according to the statistics compiled by the FBI in 2011.

Local crime rates in Tampa show a population of approximately 350,758 residents. The local crime statistics show that the rates of violent crimes reported to law enforcement for the City of Tampa area are generally higher than the national averages.

Resisting With or Without Violence

In Florida, one of the most common offenses related to violence is resisting an officer. The misdemeanor of resisting an officer without violence is defined in section 843.02, Fla. Stat. The corpus delicti requires that a defendant must:

  • obstruct, resist, or oppose the victim;
  • that the victim, at the time of the obstruction, resistance, or opposition, must be engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty;
  • that the victim must be a police officer; and
  • that the defendant must know that the victim is a police officer.

See Fla. Std. Jury Instr. 21.2. For the felony offense of resisting with violence, the prosecutor must prove beyond all reasonable doubt the additional element that the defendant resisted with violence.

Reclassification of Violent Crimes Based on the Victim’s Status

Under Florida law, certain types of assault or battery offenses are more serious when committed against persons who are employed as first responders, e.g., law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical care providers.

Section 784.07(2), F.S., provides that when a person is charged with knowingly committing an assault or battery upon law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other persons while those persons are engaged in the lawful performance of their duties, the offense is to be reclassified as follows:

  • An assault is reclassified from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a misdemeanor of the first degree;
  • A battery is reclassified from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree;
  • An aggravated assault is reclassified from a felony of the third degree to a felony of the second degree (notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person convicted of aggravated assault upon a law enforcement officer shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of three years); and
  • An aggravated battery is reclassified from a felony of the second degree to a felony of the first degree (notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person convicted of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of five years).

Section 784.07(3), F.S., provides, “[n]otwithstanding s. 948.01, F.S., adjudication of guilt or imposition of the sentence cannot be suspended, deferred, or withheld, and the defendant is not eligible for statutory gain-time under s. 944.275, F.S., or any form of discretionary early release, other than pardon or executive clemency, or conditional medical release under s. 947.149, F.S., prior to serving the minimum sentence.”

Reclassification of an offense has the effect of increasing the maximum sentence and fines that can be imposed for the offense. The maximum sentence or fine that can be imposed for a criminal offense are determined by the degree of the misdemeanor or felony. The maximum available fines escalate based on the degree of the offense.

Florida’s Definition of Dangerous Crimes

Section 907.041, F.S., provides a presumption in favor of release on nonmonetary conditions for any person who is granted pretrial release unless such person is charged with a dangerous crime. Many violent crimes in Florida are classified as “dangerous crimes.”

Section 907.041, F.S., defines a ‘dangerous crime” to include any of the following:

  • Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
  • Act of terrorism as defined in s. 775.30, F.S.;
  • Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Aggravated battery;
  • Aircraft piracy;
  • Arson;
  • Burglary of a dwelling;
  • Carjacking;
  • Child abuse or aggravated child abuse;
  • Illegal use of explosives;
  • Home invasion robbery;
  • Homicide;
  • Human trafficking;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault or act upon or in presence of a child under the age of 16 years;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Manufacturing any substances in violation of ch. 893, F.S.;
  • Robbery;
  • Sexual activity with a child, who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age, by or at solicitation of a person in familial or custodial authority;
  • Stalking and aggravated stalking;
  • Act of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28, F.S.;
  • Sexual battery; or
  • Attempting or conspiring to commit any such crime.

The term “forcible felonies” are defined in Section 776.08, F.S., as any felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual and specifically includes:

  • Aggravated assault;
  • Aggravated battery;
  • Aggravated stalking;
  • Aircraft piracy;
  • Arson;
  • Burglary;
  • Carjacking;
  • Home-invasion robbery;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Murder;
  • Robbery;
  • Sexual battery;
  • Treason; and
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.

Consequences of a Misdemeanor Crime of Violence on a Concealed Weapon Permit

If you were found guilty of a misdemeanor crime of violence either because the court withholds adjudication or adjudicated you guilty, then you are not eligible for a Concealed Weapon or Firearm License unless three years have passed since you completed the terms of probation or other conditions set by the court (or after the record has been sealed or expunged).

When you submit the application for a concealed weapon after the three-year period, you must include the following:

  • a copy of the document issued by the court or probation office that shows you have completed all of the special terms and conditions; or
  • proof the record was sealed or expunged.

For purposes of obtaining a concealed weapons permit, the term “misdemeanor crime of violence” is defined to include “any misdemeanor conviction involving the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.”

The most common examples of violent misdemeanor crimes included within this definition include:

  • assault;
  • battery;
  • stalking; or
  • an attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing offenses.

Requirements for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon requires that:

  • the defendant created in the mind of the victim a well-founded fear that violence is about to take place;
  • that the threat of the weapon is used in a way likely to cause death or great bodily harm; and
  • that violence was imminent.

Collier v. State, 159 So.3d 963 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015).

Additional Resources

Ten-Year Trends for Violent Crimes in Florida – Visit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement FDLE website to find information on trends from 1997 to 2017 for crimes of violent crimes in Florida. The source of the information is the Florida Statistical Analysis Center: FDLE (1997-2017). Crime in Florida, Florida uniform crime report [Computer program]. For purposes of statistics on violent crimes in Florida, the following crimes qualify as violent crimes: Murder, Rape, Robbery, and Aggravated Assault. The definition of Aggravated Assault includes Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Stalking. The statistics show that over this 10-year period, Florida had a sharp decrease in the number of reported violent offenses, which were down 41.8 percent from 146,929 reported offenses in 1997 to 85,558 in 2017. Although Florida’s population increased 39.2 percent during this 10-year period, the overall violent crime rate dropped from 58.2 percent from 998.6 offenses per 100,000 population in 1997 to 417.7 in 2017.

Violent Crime Victim Services – Visit the website of the Florida Attorney General’s office to learn more about services for the victims of violent crimes. Find information on the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights and other resources. The website provides information on how to file for Victim’s Compensation.

Concealed Weapon’s Permit after a Misdemeanor Crimes of Violence Conviction – Visit the website for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to find out more about the consequences of being convicted of or being found guilty of any misdemeanor crime of violence (not including an act of domestic violence) when it comes to obtaining a concealed weapons permit to firearm license. After a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of violence, you are not eligible for a concealed weapons permit for three years after the sentence is complete or the record has been sealed or expunged. After that, you must submit proof that you completed all the conditions of probation and other conditions with your application for a concealed weapons permit.

Finding an Attorney for Crimes of Violence in Tampa, FL

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm, in Tampa, FL, to discuss your felony charges. We are experienced in representing clients on a variety of violent crimes, including all forms of felony assault and battery. We are experienced in fighting these cases, particularly when a self-defense claim can be asserted.

We can explain the charges pending against you, the typical penalties associated with that charge, and important defenses that can be asserted in the case as you fight for a dismissal of the charge.

Our main offices are in downtown Tampa, FL, in Hillsborough County. We have additional offices in New Port Richey in Pasco County, across from the West Pasco Judicial Center and Clearwater in Pinellas County near the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) courthouse.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case either in the office or over the phone. Call (813) 250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, April 12, 2024.