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Gainesville Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing a criminal charge can be extremely upsetting. If you have been charged with a crime, and you need experienced legal counsel, it is very important that you take the time to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your right to legal counsel is clearly stated in the U.S. Constitution, and failing to take full advantage of this right can have disastrous consequences as you face the full penalties that the criminal justice system can deal out.

Robert G. Whittel has handled many cases with an outstanding winning success rate and represents clients within and outside the cities of Ocala, Bushnell, Gainesville, Spring Hill, Inverness, Tampa, New Port Richey, and Tarpon Springs. Mr. Whittel is recognized as one of the premier criminal defense attorneys in the area and defends all major felony and misdemeanor criminal cases. He is committed to protecting the rights of the accused. He provides his clients with his years of expertise in criminal defense and will fight for your constitutional rights.

Criminal Defense

Crimes in Florida may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. There are two classes of misdemeanors: first-degree misdemeanors and second-degree misdemeanors. First-degree misdemeanors can result in up to a year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine. Second-degree misdemeanors can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Felonies also come in different classes, with capital and life felonies being the most serious. Prosecutors must establish that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. A criminal defense lawyer in Gainesville often can build strong substantive, procedural, or constitutional arguments on a defendant’s behalf.


You can be convicted of DUI in Florida if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more. You also can be convicted if your normal faculties are impaired. The law sets the range of penalties for DUIs, depending on how many prior convictions you have and the circumstances. These penalties may include incarceration, fines, and license revocation. For a first offense DUI, there is a possibility of one year of probation, 50 hours of community service, and a 10-day impoundment. However, these penalties would be greater if your blood alcohol content was found to be .15% or greater, or if there was a minor in the car while you were intoxicated.

Drug Crimes

There are five different schedules of controlled dangerous substances in Florida. The classification of a drug depends on whether it has a high probability of abuse and whether there are any accepted medical uses for it. If you are caught with drugs, you can face a wide range of charges, including charges related to possession, possession for sale, manufacturing, importing, or trafficking. The amount of the drug will affect the sentence, should you be convicted. A Gainesville criminal defense lawyer often can defend a drug case based on a violation of search and seizure requirements in the Constitution, which may result in the suppression of evidence.

Sex Crimes

Sex crimes in Florida include sexual battery, sexual assault, and lewd and lascivious offenses. The elements of the crime and the available defenses depend on the specific offense. For example, consent may be a defense to a sex charge involving an alleged adult victim, but it is not a defense to a sex charge involving an alleged child victim. Sometimes a defense strategy may involve challenging the credibility of the accuser or showing that the defendant has an alibi. A sex crime conviction may result in very harsh penalties, including incarceration and the requirement that you register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.

Theft Crimes

You can perpetrate theft by taking or using another party’s property with the requisite criminal intent. Theft usually occurs when someone knowingly uses or obtains, or tries to use or obtain, the property of someone else with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive them of the right to benefit from the property. The level of the charge usually depends on the value of the property. For example, grand theft can be charged as a first-degree felony if the property at issue is worth at least $100,000, or under certain other circumstances. A criminal defense attorney in the Gainesville area may be able to argue that the defendant lacked the required intent, or that the property was incorrectly valued.

Violent Crimes

Violent crimes are crimes involving intentional and aggressive acts against another person that threaten to inflict or do inflict physical harm. A conviction can result in a sentence that includes years in state prison. Many violent crimes involve domestic violence. In Florida, domestic violence comprises specific kinds of violence, such as battery, assault, sexual battery, and stalking, when they are perpetrated by someone with a family or household member relationship to the victim. A family or household member relationship can include spouses, exes, co-parents, and relatives by marriage or blood. You also can be charged with domestic violence if you are accused of committing certain violent acts against someone with whom you currently live or with whom you used to live.

Gun Crimes

Gun crimes in Florida may involve gun or weapon offenses and enhancements. Common offenses include improper exhibition, unlicensed carry, possession of a weapon at a school or a school-sponsored event, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Carrying a concealed firearm is a third-degree felony that can be punished with up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and $5,000 in fines. Weapons enhancements increase the penalties that may be imposed for other types of crimes. Under the 10-20-Life law, there are mandatory minimum sentences imposed when a firearm is used during the perpetration of a forcible felony. A Gainesville criminal defense attorney can help a defendant fight to avoid the harsh penalties under this law.

White Collar Crimes

White collar crimes are non-violent crimes that are perpetrated for economic gain. Fraud is one type of white collar crime. It occurs when someone gains control over a service or object by intentionally misleading someone else. Fraud can involve insurance fraud, credit card fraud, or health care fraud. Other white collar crimes include embezzlement, forgery, and money laundering. The nature of the crime and the amount of money involved, as well as the number of victims, can affect the sentence.

Traffic Offenses

Traffic offenses include moving violations and non-moving violations. Moving violations happen if a driver does not obey traffic laws while a car is in motion. They include speeding and texting while driving. Non-moving violations are offenses that occur when a car is at rest, such as illegal parking or expired plates. Often, a person’s ability to drive affects their ability to go to school or make a living. Accordingly, it can be important to fight a traffic ticket to avoid having your license suspended.

Juvenile Crimes

If you are a parent whose child has been charged with a crime, you may be very worried about his or her future. The juvenile justice system emphasizes the rehabilitation of youthful offenders rather than punishment. Often, there are pretrial diversion programs available for first offenders, who may be referred to Teen Court. However, some juvenile offenses may be directly filed in adult court, such as cases involving a repeat juvenile offender or a very serious crime. This makes it especially important to contact a criminal defense lawyer in the Gainesville area without delay.

Probation Violations

Probation violations happen if a defendant violates the terms of a probationary punishment. An accusation that you violated your probation should be taken seriously. The circumstances of the violation can affect the penalties for a probation violation. These penalties are likely to be severe if you are arrested for a new crime while on probation. Other probation violations include missing an appointment with a probation officer, not meeting financial obligations imposed by a court, failing to complete a drug treatment program, or testing positive for a controlled substance.

Child Abuse

Child abuse is an intentional act that causes or reasonably can be anticipated to cause mental or physical injuries to a child under Florida Statute section 827.03(2)(c). There is no requirement that you have a custodial or parental relationship to the child victim. Therefore, even if what happened would have been charged as misdemeanor battery if the victim were an adult, it can be charged as felony child abuse because the victim was a child. Child abuse is a third-degree felony, while aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony.

Retain an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in the Gainesville Area

When choosing a criminal defense attorney, it is very important that you select an attorney with a proven track record, litigation skills, and a practical, working knowledge of Florida law as it applies to your case. Since each case is unique, your attorney should give you personalized attention and a tailor-made defense. Mr. Whittel has devoted his practice to protecting the legal rights of people charged with criminal offenses. Our firm always works in the best interest of clients, whether that entails negotiating a favorable plea bargain or going to trial. Call Whittel & Melton at 866-608-5LAW (5529) or contact us online for a free consultation.

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