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Criminal Offenses Under Florida Law - Glossary

Criminal offenses are those that violate public law. Federal and state laws classify criminal offenses into two different categories depending on their severity: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are much more serious crimes than misdemeanors, and hence have much harsher sentences. Below you will find some basic definitions related to the criminal law.

Age of Consent

Minimum age at which a person is considered legally capable of given consent to any kind of sexual activity. Any sexual behavior with a person under the age of consent is severely punished by the law.

Criminal Forfeiture

Punishment imposed on an individual following a conviction. Criminal forfeiture requires that the government indict the property used in or obtained with proceeds from the crime. Upon completion of a criminal trial, if the defendant is found guilty, criminal forfeiture proceedings are conducted in the court before a judge. The proceedings may result in a verdict forfeiting the property.

Domestic Violence Injunction

Established in section 741.30 of the Florida Statutes, an injunction for protection against domestic violence is a court order demanding a person not to threaten, batter or harass another one. The injunction may or may not prohibit any contact between both individuals. Sometimes called a "restraining order," an injunction prohibits the person to whom it is directed from continuing with any acts or threats of violence. The injunction can be temporary or permanent.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

When a person is driving or is in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, when affected to the extent that the person's normal faculties are impaired; has a blood or breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more.

Drug Crime

The unlawful possession, manufacture, distribution, transportation, or trafficking of drugs.

Drug Offender Probation

The Department of Corrections developed and administers a drug offender probation program which emphasizes a combination of treatment and intensive community supervision approaches and which includes provision for supervision of offenders in accordance with a specific treatment plan. The program may include the use of graduated sanctions consistent with the conditions imposed by the court. Drug offender probation status shall include surveillance and random drug testing, and may include those measures normally associated with community control, except that specific treatment conditions and other treatment approaches necessary to monitor this population may be ordered.

Felony

A serious crime that is generally punishable by more than one year of imprisonment of up to death by execution. You have the right to a jury trial if charged with a felony crime. Felonies include murder, aggravated assault, rape, robbery, burglary, manslaughter, kidnapping, vehicular homicide, arson, aggravated battery, child abuse, and DUI manslaughter.

Juvenile Court

Special court handling problems of delinquent, neglected, or abused children.

Juvenile Crime

A juvenile crime is a crime that is committed by children who are under 18 years old.

Misdemeanor

A crime punishable by less than one year of imprisonment. Interfering with an officer while he is engaged in official duties is considered a misdemeanor.Petty theft is also considered a misdemeanor.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the practice of making the proceeds of a crime appear to have been legitimately earned.

Probation

Probation is a form of community supervision requiring specified contacts with parole and probation officers and other terms and conditions determined by the court.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a legal term used to identify an unwelcome and unsolicited attention of intimate or sexual nature in the workplace or at school. The term sexual harassment includes a wide range of behaviors from mild annoyances to serious sexual abuses. For a behavior to be considered as sexual harassment it must be, in general, unwanted, of sexual nature or gender directed, and must interfere with the ability of someone to perform at his/her work or at school. It is also important to note that the harasser may be of either a female or a male and that the victim does not need to be of the opposite gender.

Sexual harassment may involve visual, verbal and/or physical behaviors including, not limited to, the following:

  • Making sexually explicit gestures
  • Sexually suggestive jokes
  • Displaying sexually explicit objects or pictures
  • Unwelcome sexual propositions
  • Demands for sexual favors
  • Unwelcome comments about an individual's body or appearance
  • Unnecessary and unwanted physical contact such as touching or hugging
  • Coerced kissing or fondling
  • Physical assault

Ten Day Rule

This rule states that you have 10 days from the DUI arrest date to request a formal review hearing and challenge the Administrative Suspension of your driver license. If this hearing is requested within this 10 day period, a temporary license will be issued to you. This license is usually good for up to seven days after the hearing. If the formal review hearing is not requested within this ten day period, your license will be suspended. The suspension will apply for 6 to 18 months, depending on your specific case. You are allowed to drive using your citation as a driving permit during the first 10 days after your DUI arrest.

Traffic Violation

A mix of regulatory and penal offenses based on violations of state statutes and municipal ordinances relating to the operation of vehicles. Reckless driving, excessive speeding and operating a vehicle without having a driver's license are examples of traffic violations.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular Manslaughter is the killing of a human being or viable fetus, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.

Victim

As defined by chapter 960 of the Florida Statutes "any person who suffers personal physical injury or death as a direct result of a crime."

White Collar Offense

Usually a non-violent offense committed in a business or professional setting to get financial gain. White collar offenses include fraud, money laundering, perjury, forgery, credit card fraud, mail fraud, extortion, computer hacking, and bankruptcy fraud.

10/20/life Statute

When a firearm is used in the commission of a crime, the crime may be enhanced to a higher-level degree felony, and the possible punishment may be greatly increased. Under the 10/20/life statute, if a person is convicted of one of the crimes listed in the statute and a firearm was used, they could face a minimum mandatory sentence of:

  • Ten years if they carried a firearm
  • Twenty years if the firearm was discharged during the crime
  • Twenty-five years to life, if any person was seriously injured or died as the result of a discharge from the firearm during the crime
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