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Tampa Lawyers List Punishments for Different Violent Crimes in Florida

Tampa Lawyers List Punishments for Different Violent Crimes in Florida

Violent crimes carry serious punishments here in Florida. As Tampa criminal defense attorneys, we often advise clients on the potential penalties they face for various violent offenses. While no two cases are alike, it helps to have a general sense of the statutory ranges and typical sentences handed down for common violent felonies.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of punishments for some of the most prevalent violent crimes we see in Tampa and elsewhere in Florida. We’ll look at felony assault and battery, robbery, kidnapping, murder, and more. Our goal is to educate on what Florida law prescribes for these dangerous offenses. This information may be useful for those facing criminal charges, as well as for families of victims.

Felony Assault and Battery

Assault refers to threatening violence, while battery means actually committing violence. Prosecutors often charge both together as “assault and battery.” Under Florida law, assault and battery becomes a felony if it:

  • Causes great bodily harm
  • Involves a deadly weapon
  • Was done on a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other protected public servant

Felony assault or battery charges can lead to substantial prison time. Sentences vary based on the severity of injury and use of a weapon, but can reach up to 30 years in prison. Defendants may also face enhanced penalties if they have prior violent convictions.


Robbery refers to theft by force or threat of force. In Florida, all robberies are categorized as felonies. Simple robbery without a weapon is a second degree felony. Armed robbery with a weapon is a first degree felony. This distinction matters greatly at sentencing.

For second degree robbery, maximum penalties are 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. But for armed robbery, maximums escalate to life imprisonment and a $15,000 fine. Defendants convicted of armed robbery typically receive sentences ranging from 5 to 30 years behind bars.


Forcibly confining or moving someone against their will constitutes kidnapping under Florida law. Basic kidnapping is a first degree felony carrying possible life imprisonment. But if defendants take certain aggravating actions – such as committing sexual battery, causing bodily harm, or ransoming the victim – mandatory life sentences come into play.

When a kidnapping results in the victim’s death, prosecutors can seek capital punishment. Florida’s death penalty procedures are complex and highly regulated, but kidnapping-murders are among the types of homicides that potentially warrant execution.

Murder / Manslaughter

Homicide offenses carry Florida’s harshest punishments. First degree murder – an intentional killing with premeditation – is subject to either the death penalty or mandatory life without parole. Second degree murder (deaths caused by dangerous acts without premeditation) is punishable by up to life imprisonment.

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a defendant kills under sudden provocation, often receiving 10-30 years behind bars. Involuntary manslaughter – an unintentional homicide through recklessness – carries a maximum 15 year prison term.

Sex Crimes

Sexual battery and other sex offenses are taken very seriously in Florida. For adult victims, sexual battery (the legal term for rape) is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment with a 25 year mandatory minimum. Sex crimes against children under 12 can warrant life imprisonment or capital punishment.

Other felony sex crimes like lewd conduct, child pornography, and failure to register as a sex offender can result in decades behind bars. Defendants face steep registration requirements that restrict housing, employment, and more after release.

Weapon Offenses

Given Florida’s concealed carry laws, prosecutors take a hard line on illegal weapon possession and use. Felons caught possessing firearms – even antiques – face a 15 year mandatory minimum prison term. Brandishing weapons in a threatening manner also leads to felony charges and steep sentences.

Sentencing enhancements apply for crimes committed with firearms. For example, armed burglary and armed trafficking offenses ratchet punishments way up compared to the non-armed versions of those crimes.

Habitual Offenders

Florida’s habitual offender laws impose severe sentences on defendants with multiple prior felonies. For two priors, maximums double. For three priors, maximums become life imprisonment. Judges have limited discretion with “habituals,” and frequently impose the maximum.

Because habitualization works retroactively, prior finished sentences can count as strikes. The potential for extreme recidivist sentencing enhances prosecutors’ leverage in plea negotiations.

The Importance of a Defense Lawyer

As you can see, Florida takes a hard line on violent crimes – especially when weapons, injuries, or past records are involved. The stakes are extremely high, with decades behind bars on the line. Mounting an effective defense requires an experienced criminal trial lawyer.

Violent crime charges must be met with an aggressive defense response. Competent counsel will evaluate the prosecutor’s case for weaknesses, challenge improper police tactics, and require proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

An attorney may also highlight mitigating factors about the defendant’s background and actions in the case. Often, skilled litigation and negotiation can lead to charges being reduced or dismissed through plea bargains.

Don’t go it alone against Florida’s justice system. Get experienced legal representation right away if facing violent crime allegations. Take advantage of confidential case evaluations and legal advice from Tampa criminal defense lawyers.


Florida Statutes, Title XLVI, Chapters 775-777, 782, 784, 787, 794

Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure

Florida Sentencing Guidelines Commission

Tampa Bay Times – “Florida has a reputation as one of the harshest states for criminal sentencing”

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