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Florida Criminal Law: Miami and South Florida Criminal Court System

The Court System

The Miami criminal lawyers at DMT will defend your rights in any criminal courtroom in the Miami and South Florida area. Depending on the offense or offenses for which an individual is arrested, as well as the age of the client, these factors will most likely determine where your case will be heard. Each criminal lawyer at DMT has years of experience in both state and federal court. The majority of cases in Miami are filed in state court. The statistic is due to the types of offenses heard in state court, as opposed to the matters heard in federal court. The state court system handles all types of cases, whereas the federal court system presides over more serious types of offenses.

Criminal Court Systen
State cases differ from federal cases in many aspects.

First, local law enforcement agencies, such as the Miami-Dade, City of Miami and Miami Beach police departments, handle the majority of the criminal investigations in Miami, Florida. Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, ATF and the secret service, generally handle federal investigations. Secondly, in state court, the office of the state attorney handles the prosecution, where the U.S. attorney handles the prosecution in federal matters. Third, the State of Florida crimes and sentencing guidelines are set forth in Florida statutes and the federal crimes and sentencing guidelines are set forth in the United States Code. The criminal defense firm of DMT defends cases both at the state and federal level.

State Criminal Defense - Felonies

In Miami, and in the entire State of Florida, crimes are divided into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are handled in circuit court by judges who were elected or appointed to the circuit court bench. Felonies are the highest level of crimes in Florida. Felonies are those crimes, which are punishable more than one year in prison. Some examples of felonies include grand theft, aggravated assault, cocaine trafficking, marijuana trafficking, DUI manslaughter and sexual battery.

Felonies are divided into five categories:

  • Third degree felony: Punishment - up to five years in prison
  • Second degree felony: Punishment - up to fifteen years in prison
  • First degree felony: Punishment - up to thirty years in prison
  • First degree felony punishable by life in prison: Punishable up to life in prison
  • Capital felony: Punishable by death or life in prison

The Florida Statutes dictate what level felony attaches to which crime. However, certain offenses carry with it different levels of felonies depending on the amount of the grand theft or scheme to defraud or perhaps the amount of cocaine or marijuana involved in the trafficking. The attorneys at DMT have successfully defended all state offenses regardless of the penalties our clients have faced. If you are being investigated or charged with a felony, DMT is the firm to defend your rights.

State Criminal Defense - Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are handled in county court by judges who were either elected or appointed to the county bench. Misdemeanors are the lowest level of offenses charged in the State of Florida for which the maximum punishment is one year in the county jail. Some examples of misdemeanors are DUI, DWLS (driving with a suspended license), simple battery, simple assault and petit theft.

Misdemeanors are divided into two categories:
  • First degree misdemeanor: Punishable by no more than one year in jail
  • Second degree misdemeanor: Punishable by no more than 60 days in jail
While many people have the conception that misdemeanors are no big deal, a poor defense to a misdemeanor can land you a criminal record incapable of being sealed or expunged or even in jail. Do not take a misdemeanor lightly. A Miami criminal attorney at DMT will successfully guide you through the process in order to keep your record, your job and your life intact.

Juvenile Criminal Defense

Individuals charged with a crime under the age of 18 become a part of the juvenile justice system. The juvenile system is different from the adult system, because the juvenile system seeks to rehabilitate rather than punish. The juvenile system attempts to prevent recidivism by getting the child back on track through a system of programs. Of course, the level of punishment is commensurate with the crime. If a child is charged with armed robbery or sexual battery, the state attorney's office has the discretion to direct file him or her to adult court where adult penalties can attach. For years, the Miami criminal attorneys at DMT have represented children for their parents and have obtained outstanding results.
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