Violent crimes are serious felonies under Florida state or federal law: they include murder (homicide), arson, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault; weapons charges; and sexual assault / sexual battery.
Violent crimes will be investigated, charged, tried, and punishment imposed under Florida law if the crime occurred within state lines and involved harm to either the government of the State of Florida or its citizens. Violent crimes will be charged as felonies under federal law, tried in a federal court, with prison time served in a federal prison, if the crime was committed against the U.S. government or committed anywhere the U.S. government has jurisdiction (e.g., territories; Indian reservations; military bases and posts; high seas) ; the crime took place in more than one state (for example, a kidnapping); or involves special circumstances (e.g., espionage).
Classifying Violent Crimes and the Range of Punishments
Violent crimes carry a much more serious range of punishments than non-violent ones. In some states, they are ranked by class (A, B, C), and in others, they are distinguished by degree (first degree, second degree, etc.).
In Florida, a third degree felony carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment; a first degree felony carries 30 years maximum imprisonment. In Florida, if the crime involves first degree murder; felony murder; capital drug trafficking; or capital sexual battery, then the death sentence may be imposed. For federal crimes, felonies are delineated by class pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3559, ranging from Class A (death penalty) to Class E (1-5 years imprisonment).
Serious violent crimes carrying the heaviest punishments under current law include:
Sale and Distribution of Guns
Sexual Assault / Sexual Battery
Please contact Miami attorney Ken Swartz to schedule an initial consultation if you or someone love has been accused with a violent crime.
Violent Crimes Involving Capital Punishment aka the Death Penalty
In Florida, the state has the discretion to pursue the death penalty in only four situations, and that is where the defendant has been charged with either first-degree murder; felony murder; capital drug trafficking; or capital sexual battery. Under federal law, the government can seek the death penalty in a much larger spectrum of crimes. Labeled "federal capital offenses" these crimes range from murder related to the smuggling of aliens, to murder of a Supreme Court justice, to treason, murder involving torture, and death resulting from aircraft hijacking (for the complete listing of capital offenses, please refer to the list compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics).
In Florida, after a defendant is found guilty of a capital offense subject to the death penalty, a second trial, Known as the penalty phase, determines whether a life or death sentence will be imposed. During the penalty phase, The jury hears evidence concerning aggravators, circumstances that weigh toward death, and mitigators, which weigh in favor of mercy. The jury then makes a sentencing recommendation based on these aggravators and mitigators. Florida, unlike many other states, does not require that the jury's death recommendation be unanimous.
In federal court, there is much less likelihood that the death penalty will be realized. While federal law offers many more opportunities to assess capital punishment, the reality is that only 162 federal death penalty cases have been tried in the past ten years. Moreover, since 1978, there have only been 3 executions based upon a federal death penalty, compared to 66 in Florida since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia, with hundreds more sitting on death row.
In Florida, inmates who are executed may choose between electrocution by electric chair, or to die by lethal injection. Under federal law, death is administered via the method chosen by the state in which the crime was committed and if that state does not have a death penalty, then the federal judge is free to choose a method of any other state. Since 1976, all federal executions have been by lethal injection. Three of the most well-known federal executions have been of Timothy McVeigh, found guilty of the Oklahoma City Bombing (executed on June 11, 2001); Juan Raul Garza, found guilty of one murder and ordering seven other killings in connection with drug smuggling (executed on June 19, 2001); and Louis Jones, Jr., found guilty of killing U.S. Private Army Tracey McBride (executed on March 18, 2003)(despite protests that Gulf War Veteran Louis Jones suffered brain damage from exposure to toxins during the Gulf War which should be considered as a mitigating factor).
Swartz Law Firm Represent Defendants Charged With Violent Crimes or Facing the Death Penalty
With over 25 years of trial experience as criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Ken Swartz represents individuals who have been accused or charged with violent crimes or white collar offenses that involve the risk of serious imprisonment or jail time, fines, and sometimes, the death penalty.
Ken Swartz has successfully defended over 1000 cases in federal trial courts.
If you or a loved one is facing federal or state charges involving violent crimes and the risk of serious incarceration or even the death penalty, then please feel free to call Swartz Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation with a top miami criminal defense attorney.
Aggressively and expertly defending people who have been accused or charged with a serious crime in state or federal court – it's what we do. Call us if we can be of help to you.