criminal law gavel scales of justice in Palm Beach

Our Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys Answer Your Questions and Protect Your Rights

Right now, you are terrified about losing your freedom and being separated from your family. Your way of life is at risk, and you may not know what to do next.

The first thing you need is accurate information about what could happen to you and how to protect your rights. Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Robert Malove is a Florida Bar Board Certified Attorney recognized as an “expert/specialist” in criminal trial law.  Mr. Malove and all of the attorneys in our practice have a passion and commitment to helping people accused of crimes. 

You have the right to know what you are up against and what could come next, and we are here to evaluate your case and offer you a free consultation. We encourage you to read the answers to five common questions we hear and to contact us as soon as possible to get more information about your unique case.

1. What are the Penalties for Committing a Crime in Florida?

In Florida, criminal offenses are categorized as either felonies or misdemeanors, with felonies carrying harsher penalties. 

Five Types of Florida Felonies

Felonies are serious crimes punishable by significant prison time, fines, and long-lasting consequences. Florida recognizes five classes of felonies:

  1. Capital felonies. Capital felonies are punishable by life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Examples include first-degree murder and certain types of terrorism.
  2. Life felonies. A life felony conviction could lead to life in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. These often involve violent acts resulting in serious injury or death.
  3. First-degree felonies. The middle felony level is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This category includes crimes like aggravated child abuse.
  4. Second-degree felonies. Crimes classified as second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Second-degree felonies include DUI manslaughter and other serious crimes.
  5. Third-degree felonies. The least severe felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. These may include possession of certain controlled substances, driving on a suspended license, and other crimes.

Two Types of Florida Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are less severe offenses typically resulting in shorter jail sentences, fines, and fewer long-term repercussions. Florida has two main misdemeanor classifications:

  1. First-degree misdemeanors. A first-degree misdemeanor conviction could lead to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Examples include petty theft, disorderly conduct, and driving under the influence (DUI first offense).
  2. Second-degree misdemeanors. Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. They often involve offenses like trespassing and violating noise ordinances.

It's important to remember that these are just general guidelines. The specific penalties for a crime depend on various factors, including the offense, your criminal history, and the defenses raised by your Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer.

2. What Types of Criminal Defense Cases Do You Take?

Our lawyers represent people in state and federal courts. Some of the cases we take include:

  • DUI defense. Drunk driving is a serious and often complex charge. Mr. Malove is a recognized leader in DUI defense with a proven track record of success in South Florida courtrooms.  Chris J., who was charged with drunk driving, has this to say about working with Mr. Malove, “August 11th 2012 was a turning point in my life. That was the day I was accused of a violation that could have changed the course of my life forever. I just want to take the time to thank you for your relentless effort to make sure justice was served in a fair and adequate manner. You went out of your way to keep me posted on my case. No matter how daunting the task you treated the situation with a professional and caring manner, even when the chips were not in my favor. With your proven education and longevity in the field as a leader there in no other attorney I would have rather turned to. Knowing that you had my back every step of the way I was able to manage my day-to-day life. My investment in you was well worth it, no wonder you were so highly recommended. I am a great advocate and supporter of yours and will gladly refer people your way.”
  • Other driving offenses. Criminal driving charges are not simple traffic violations. Potential crimes that could result in jail time and fines include reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, or driving without a license. Our attorneys understand the potential consequences and are prepared to defend your rights.
  • White-collar crimes. Your professional and personal life could be impacted if you’re convicted of a non-violent crime like fraud, embezzlement, or forgery. Don't let these allegations define you. Our firm has the experience and resources to protect your reputation and future.
  • Domestic violence. Domestic violence cases require a skilled and compassionate approach. Mr. Malove has been practicing domestic violence defense since the start of the first Florida domestic violence court. He has a deep understanding of the legal system and the complexities surrounding these sensitive situations.
  • Health care fraud defense. Healthcare providers and beneficiaries may face accusations of health care fraud. The legal landscape surrounding Medicare and Medicaid fraud can be confusing. Our attorneys have extensive experience navigating these intricate laws and protecting your rights.
  • Other felony charges. We understand that felony accusations, whether involving drugs, sex offenses, weapons charges, assault and battery, or theft, can feel overwhelming. Our firm is here to stand by your side, protect your rights, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

Additionally, our post-conviction lawyers and criminal appeals attorneys represent clients still fighting to be treated fairly after a criminal conviction.

3. How Does a Criminal Case Work in Palm Beach County?

The specifics of your case may vary depending on the charges you face. However, here's a general overview of the process in Palm Beach County:

  • Arrest and booking. If the police reasonably believe you committed a crime, you may be arrested and taken to the police station for booking. You have constitutional rights, known as your Miranda rights, that should not be violated. Once you arrive at the police station, you may be fingerprinted.
  • First appearance. After you are booked at the Palm Beach County Jail, a first appearance hearing will likely occur within 24 hours. At this hearing, a judge will advise you of the charges, set bond (if applicable), and ask if a criminal defense lawyer represents you.
  • Pre-trial release. Depending on the severity of the charges and your background, you may be released before trial on bond. This means you post money to guarantee your appearance in court. An attorney can help you argue for a lower bond or pre-trial release without a bond.
  • Formal charges. After your first appearance, the Florida State Attorney’s Office or the United States Attorney’s Office may review your case and decide if the government will pursue formal charges against you.
  • Arraignment. If the government decides to proceed with a criminal case against you, you will have an arraignment hearing. The formal charges will be presented during this hearing, and your defense lawyer will enter a plea on your behalf.
  • Pre-trial process. This stage involves discovery, where your lawyer and the prosecution exchange evidence and potentially negotiate a plea deal. Your lawyer will investigate the charges, gather evidence for your defense, and advise you on your options.
  • Trial. If no plea deal is reached, your case will go to trial before a judge or jury. The prosecution must present evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, present your defense, and argue for a dismissal of charges or acquittal.
  • Sentencing. The judge will determine your sentence if convicted based on sentencing guidelines and your specific case. Your attorney can argue for a lighter sentence or probation.

4. What Does a Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?

An experienced Palm Beach County criminal deense lawyer can help you throughout the legal process. Here's what we may do for you:

  • Protect your rights. Police and prosecutors must follow specific procedures during an arrest and investigation. We will protect your constitutional rights and fight to exclude any illegally obtained evidence.
  • Investigate the charges against you. A thorough investigation is critical to building a strong defense. We will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and explore weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
  • Develop a defense strategy. Your lawyer will work with you to develop a legal strategy tailored to the specifics of your case. This may involve challenging the evidence, negotiating a plea bargain, or taking your case to trial.
  • Represent you in court. We will represent you in all court appearances, arguing on your behalf and protecting your rights.
  • Fight for the best possible outcome. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome in your case, whether that's dismissal of charges, a reduction in charges, a favorable plea deal, or acquittal at trial. We encourage you to see how we’ve resolved other criminal cases in South Florida.

5. When Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible if:

  • You've been arrested. You can exercise your rights by remaining silent and requesting an attorney if you're arrested. A lawyer can protect your rights during questioning, ensure you understand the charges against you, and advise you on the next steps.
  • You're under criminal investigation. You don’t have to wait until you are arrested to contact us. If you believe you're under investigation for a crime, we can advise you on how to interact with law enforcement and protect your rights throughout the investigation.
  • You receive a notice to appear in court. A notice to appear in court could signal formal charges being filed against you. Don't wait to consult with a lawyer to understand the charges and discuss your options.
  • You have questions or concerns. Don't hesitate to contact a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about a potential criminal case. An attorney can provide legal guidance and help you navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system.

The potential consequences of a conviction can be life-altering, especially for felonies. An experienced attorney can fight for the best possible outcome, whether dismissal of charges, a reduction in charges, or a favorable plea bargain. We are here to help you.