Violent crimes refer to any criminal offense which involves the use of or threat of force towards another person. Violent crime covers a broad spectrum of violent crimes which are divided into five categories by the United States Department of Justice. These include murder, rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault.
With violent crimes, violence can either be the objective or they can be a means to an end (as in robbery). Additionally, a violent crime may or may not involve the use of a weapon. A person can murder another human being with their bare hands or in a more insidious way, such as poison. They do not have to use a firearm or knife to commit such a heinous crime.
Violent crimes are prosecuted as felonies, which means that a conviction can involve years in a state prison. Not only can they involve a lengthy prison sentence, the state of Florida enacted the “three strikes law” in 1996. That means that a violent felony conviction would count as a “strike” on your criminal record.
What is the three strikes law? The three strikes laws were enacted by state governments of the United States. These laws require the state courts to hand down mandatory sentences to criminals who have been convicted of a violent felony on three or more separate occasions. Florida is one of the states that have adopted their own form of habitual offender laws.
Under the three strikes law, repeat offenders are subjected to increased and extended prison sentences. They are also limited or, in some cases, prohibited from receiving an alternative form of punishment other than a prison sentence.
In addition to the “three strikes law,” the state of Florida is one of the states that carry the death penalty. This means that individuals who are facing serious violent crime charges such as murder, could be sentenced to death in a court of law.
Although most violent crimes involve the use of force or violence, a crime can still be categorized as a violent crime even if it only involved the “threat” of violence. For example, the crime of assault falls under this category. Assault can vary depending on the facts surrounding the case, however, assault by definition involves the threat or use of force. Physical contact does not need to take place in order to be convicted of assault; simply the threat of violence is sufficient.
Assault charges can range from simple assault to aggravated assault. Simple assault can be charged as a misdemeanor, however, it is often prosecuted as a felonious crime. Battery, on the other hand, involves actual physical contact with the victim.
Sexual assault and rape are categorized as violent sex crimes. Sexual assault refers to non-consensual sexual contact, whereas rape is associated with non-consensual sexual intercourse. Furthermore, sexual crimes committed against children are felonies.
Robbery is a violent crime where the victim is typically confronted by a weapon. Robbers commonly use a firearm or knife to instill fear in their victim, in order to get them to hand over their purse or wallet. Carjacking is a similar type offense where the carjacker will threaten to use a weapon against the victim unless they turn over their vehicle.
Homicide charges are by far the most serious types of violent crimes as they involve the death of another human being. Murder and manslaughter charges are divided into degrees. For example, a person who meticulously plans to murder their victim and lies in wait for them can be guilty of a capital offense and sentenced to death, whereas a person who accidentally strikes and kills a pedestrian with their car will face lighter sanctions.
Violent crimes are inherently serious in nature, thus a conviction can ruin your life. Those convicted of violent crimes face lengthy prison sentences; therefore defending them requires the help of an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney.
It is not entirely uncommon for extenuating circumstances to lead to “criminal acts,” therefore a strong defense is your only option. A criminal defense attorney will know how to cross-examine evidence and witness testimony. They will also have the tools to unearth any mitigating evidence that could help you achieve a more favorable outcome in the charges against you.