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Violent Crimes

What is Considered a Violent Crime?
Violent crimes occur when the offender uses or threatens to use violent force against the victim. They might not actually make physical contact with the victim, but they can still be charged with assault when the other person is in fear of being harmed. As assault charge can be brought against you for simply raising a fist at another person and issuing a verbal threat. Violent crimes in Miami may include murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping and robbery. Non violent crimes in Miami usually include shoplifting, drug possession, forgery, possessing stolen property or malicious mischief.

Once You Have Been Arrested
When individuals are arrested for committing violent crimes, the police are required to tell them what they are being charged with. People who are not involved in law enforcement are unfamiliar with how the criminal justice system works. Once someone has been placed under arrest, the police are required by law to issue the Miranda warning. This usually includes the following statement:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak with an attorney and have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you at government expense”.

The United States Supreme Court mandated this warning be given to all criminal suspects to protect their Fifth Amendment rights. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution says that, “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”. This Amendment was enacted to protect criminal suspects from self-incrimination during police questioning.

If the police question a suspect in custody without giving the Miranda warning, any statement the suspect makes cannot be used against them in a court of law. The Miranda warning must be given to a suspect who is either in police custody or under police interrogation. If you have not been formally charged with a crime or are under police interrogation, the police are not required to issue the warning.

Why You Should Never Talk to the Police
Once you have been arrested, the police can only ask your name, date of birth and address without issuing the Miranda warning. People mistakenly believe that if they are cooperative with the police, they won’t be arrested. Keep in mind that law enforcement officials work for the District Attorney. Their primary job is to convict people and put them behind bars. These are some of the reasons you should never talk to the police:

• You cannot talk your way out of being arrested. If the police have evidence against you, then they have probable cause to make an arrest. Their goal is elicit a confession from you, thus making their job easier.

• The prosecutor can use any statement you make against you at a later date.

• Even if you are guilty of committing the crime, the burden of proof remains upon the State. The prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of committing the crime.

• Sometimes innocent people implicate themselves in a crime because they were a witness or they known who might have been involved in the crime. The police will put pressure on your to help them find the real suspect. They have been known to threaten people and charge them with a crime if they don’t tell everything they know.

• If you are innocent, you may go overboard and deny some insignificant fact by telling a little white lie. When the police find out you were lying, they will consider you a suspect or even worse, charge you with a crime.

In the State of Florida, it is against the law to lie to police. Making a false statement to police when they are conducting an investigation is a misdemeanor offense. However, if the police are investigating a capital felony crime, the offense is considered a felony of the third degree. Ironically, the law allows an investigating officer to lie to a suspect under certain circumstances. In a landmark decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Frazier v. Cupp, the Court ruled that a confession is admissible in court even after police use trickery and deceit to get the suspect to confess. Using false evidence is a common strategy used by police. Investigators are allowed to lie by saying they have DNA or fingerprint evidence against the suspect in order to induce a confession.

What Are the Penalties?
Most Miami violent crimes are prosecuted as felony offenses. The State of Florida has the following penalties for misdemeanor and felony offenses:

• Capital Felony—Life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty
• Life Felony—Up to 40 years or life in prison without the possibility of parole and a fine of $15,000
• First Degree Felony—Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $10,000
• Second Degree Felony—Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000
• Third Degree Felony—Up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000
• Second Degree Misdemeanor—Up to 1 year in prison and a fine of $1,000
• Second Degree Misdemeanor—Up to 60 days in prison and a fine of up to $500

The sentence imposed by the judge may depend upon mitigating or aggravating factors. A mitigating factor could be that the crime was committed while the defendant was under extreme mental or emotional duress. An aggravating factor would be if the crime was especially heinous or the victim was under a certain age. Miami violent crimes committed against children are taken very seriously by the justice system. If you have been charged with a violent crime in Miami, your first phone call should be to a criminal defense attorney.