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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.

Drug Possession

Drug possession can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. There are different kinds of drug possession, including possession of a chemical known to make drugs, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of more than 10 grams of a controlled substance, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, and felony drug possession. If you are caught with more than 20 grams of marijuana, for example, you can face a state prison sentence of up to five years and a maximum fine of $5,000. If you possess what is called a threshold amount of a certain drug, you can face drug trafficking charges even if you are not actually involved in a trafficking operation.

Drug Possession for Sale

Under Florida Statutes section 893.13(a), someone is prohibited from possessing a controlled substance with the intent to make, sell, or deliver it. The prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed a certain substance with the intent to make, sell, or deliver it, that the substance was a controlled substance as defined under Section 893.03, and that you knew the illegal nature of the substance. A Boca Raton drug crime attorney may be able to attack the prosecution’s ability to prove one or more of these elements. Possession for sale can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the quantity and type of drugs involved. Generally, it is a more serious charge than simple possession.

Drug Distribution

Drug distribution can be one of the most serious drug charges in Florida. You can be prosecuted for drug distribution related to drug trafficking if you are distributing a threshold amount of a certain drug. A mandatory minimum sentence may be imposed, which means that the judge does not have discretion. For example, if you are caught distributing marijuana in a quantity between 25 and 2,000 pounds, it likely will be charged as trafficking, and you can face a minimum of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. On the other hand, if distribution is charged as possession with intent to sell, it may be charged as a third-degree felony, which can be punished with five years’ incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.

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.

Drug Cultivation

Drug cultivation involves the tending, growing, nurturing, or processing of marijuana. You can face misdemeanor or felony charges for drug cultivation, and the quantity will affect the sentence. Cultivation for personal use is a lesser crime that is usually charged as a misdemeanor. However, if you are charged with cultivation with intent to distribute, this is a felony offense, which means that you can be punished with at least one year in state prison. Therefore, you should contact a drug crime lawyer in the Boca Raton area who can investigate your available defenses.

Drug Manufacturing

Drug manufacturing is charged when someone is creating controlled substances by using chemicals. Some drugs that are commonly associated with manufacturing charges are methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. Potential sentences can include 5-30 years in prison, fines, and drug rehabilitation or counseling. It can be easy to create methamphetamine and other controlled substances by using over-the-counter ingredients, which means that some people make drugs in home laboratories, and this can result in explosions or fires due to the volatility of the chemicals. The police sometimes use overzealous tactics because of the risks involved in drug manufacturing, and you can get evidence suppressed if you can establish that your constitutional rights were violated.

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking can be charged whenever a threshold amount of a substance is involved in an activity. Different substances have different threshold amounts for the purposes of drug trafficking charges. You can be charged even if you have no ties to the criminal underworld. Drug trafficking should be taken very seriously because mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration are imposed upon a conviction. Our Boca Raton drug crime lawyers will leave no stone unturned in your defense.

Drug Importation

Organized drug trafficking often involves drug importation from the Caribbean, Cuba, and Mexico. Cocaine is a commonly imported controlled substance, sometimes hidden in mules (people or animals that carry the drugs) or as legal cargo. It is important to realize that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and police are not on your side, and you should get an experienced attorney involved right away if you are under investigation or accused of drug importation. However, you should not assume that a conviction is guaranteed. Sometimes it is possible to raise a Fourth Amendment or other constitutional defense to drug importation charges.

Drug Transportation

Drug transportation occurs when drugs are moved from one location to another. If you are caught transporting drugs across state lines, you may face federal charges. Federal agencies like the DEA or FBI may be involved. These agencies have vast resources, and they often fight hard to get maximum sentencing for a drug crime. Whether you are accused of transporting cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, or heroin, the penalties can be harsh, including years in prison and massive fines. The drug crime lawyers at our Boca Raton firm can work to minimize or avert these penalties.

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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