Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Attorneys
Attorneys Fighting for Your Rights in Miami-Dade County
At Meldon Law, our aggressive defense lawyers represent clients in many different kinds of criminal cases, from drug offenses and misdemeanor assaults to serious felony offenses that can include white-collar fraud offenses or internet sex crimes. We know how critical it is to have a dedicated Miami-Dade criminal defense attorney to represent you whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony offense. We regularly assist clients with defense strategies for cases involving assault, domestic violence, DUIs, weapons offenses, drug charges, federal crimes, theft crimes, sex crimes, and expungement.
Understanding Criminal Convictions in Miami-Dade
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense in Miami-Dade, you should know that the penalties can be severe. The following are sentencing guidelines that are applied to misdemeanor and felony convictions in the state:
- Second-degree misdemeanors can result in a sentence of up to 60 days of jail time and up to $500 in a monetary fine;
- First-degree misdemeanors can result in a sentence of up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in a monetary fine;
- Third-degree felonies can result in a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in a monetary fine;
- Second-degree felonies can result in a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in a monetary fine;
- First-degree felonies can result in a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and up to $15,000 in a monetary fine;
- Life felonies can result in a sentence of life in prison upon conviction; and
- Capital felonies can result in a death sentence upon conviction.
Many federal white-collar offenses, including bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud can result in many years in prison and overwhelming monetary fines upon conviction. For example, a federal wire fraud conviction can result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. A federal bank fraud sentence can result in a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a monetary fine of up to $1 million.
How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case in Miami-Dade
When you are seeking a criminal defense attorney in Miami-Dade, it is extremely important to find a lawyer who has experience handling criminal defenses in Florida and has a proven track record with the particular kind of case you are facing. Each criminal offense requires the prosecution to prove specific elements of the crime, and it is essential to hire a lawyer who has experience defending clients against similar charges.
What is at Stake?
All criminal charges are serious. But what’s at stake depends on the nature of your charges: Are they misdemeanor or felony charges, or both? With any charge—despite how small it may seem—you stand to lose something, and the loss is probably greater than you realize. Quickly retaining skilled counsel will help you minimize these risks.
In Florida, misdemeanors are any crimes for which the maximum punishment is one year in jail or less. Still, misdemeanors are crimes, which means they can include arrests, fingerprints and booking, missed work, a criminal record, etc.
Florida law provides for two categories of misdemeanors: first and second degree. The maximum penalty that the state can impose for any particular misdemeanor crime determines its degree. A first-degree misdemeanor levies a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Second-degree misdemeanors subject defendants to maximum penalties of 60 days in jail and $500 fines.
Examples of Florida’s first degree misdemeanors include:
- DUI/drunk driving
- Felony DUI
- Driving with a suspended license (second offense)
- Reckless driving
- Marijuana possession (less than 20 grams)
Examples of Florida’s second degree misdemeanors include:
- Simple trespass
- Lack of valid driver’s license
- Driving on a suspended license with knowledge
- Harassing phone calls
In Florida, felonies carry minimum penalties of more than one year in jail and thus constitute more serious crimes. In these cases, retaining skilled counsel will almost always make the difference between imprisonment and freedom.
Examples of felonies include:
- Drug possession (except marijuana)
- Sex crimes
- Child abuse
In Florida, penalties for some felonies include life imprisonment and execution. The sooner you retain skilled counsel, the better. With each passing day, attorneys can do less and less to help you.
DUIs are technically first-degree misdemeanors in Florida, but they carry unique penalties upon conviction—making DUIs more serious than they initially seem, even for first offenses.
License suspension: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for six months to one year (even in the absence of a conviction, if you refuse a chemical test).
Jail time: Your maximum possible jail time depends on factors other than the mere offense of intoxication:
- Six months for a standard DUI
- Nine months for blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more
- Nine months for having any passengers 18 or younger
- One year, if the accident caused property damage or minor injuries
- A standard, first-offense DUI: $500 to $1,000
- If your BAC tested 0.15 percent or more, or a passenger younger than 18 years old was present: $1,000 to $2,000.
- DUIs where you inflicted serious bodily injury on another: as much as $5,000.
In addition, you will probably face probation, community service, ignition interlock device requirements (IID), and vehicle impoundment.
What Can a Attorney Do for My DUI?
If the state has charged you with a crime, don’t wait! A attorney may do more for you than you realize. Our experienced legal team at Meldon Law has many ways to defend against DUI charges, which may reduce or dismiss them altogether.
Experienced attorneys may, for example, enter some affirmatives defenses on your behalf. An affirmative defense allows your attorney to show that, although you admit to driving while impaired, the offense was necessary, unavoidable, or less bad in light of other circumstances. In certain cases, successfully arguing these defenses can significantly reduce the penalty. Examples include:
- Driving was necessary to prevent some greater evil
- Driving was necessary to escape serious bodily injury or death
- The driver did not know she ingested an intoxicating substance (for example, she drank spiked punch at a party)
- The driver has an honest belief that he was sober (that, for example, he took a prescribed medication but believed the effects wore off)
Furthermore, police officers can make mistakes—in the course of their stops—that hamper the ability of the state to prosecute you. Examples include improper stops, inaccurate field sobriety tests, improper training for administering field tests, etc. Experienced attorneys understand all of these defenses and will help you mount the best defense possible.
Call The Experienced Miami-Dade Criminal Defense Attorneys At Meldon Law
Once the state charges you with a crime, you are in “the system.” This process often includes arrests, bookings, first appearances, pre-trial hearings, and maybe even pre-trial jail time. The prosecutors’ jobs are to make their cases quickly. They have nothing to lose if you fail to retain skilled counsel, and everything to gain. They use tactics—like intimidation and anti-defendant plea bargains—to move their cases. You are just a case file to them—but to quality defense attorneys, you are so much more. The counsel of a criminal defense attorney is your constitutional right, but choosing a skilled Miami-Dade criminal defense attorney is your key. It opens the door to an excellent defense, which can lead to significantly lessened charges or even a dismissal.