Violent Crimes

We Have Represented Hundreds of People Who Were charged with Crimes of Violence 

This is only a partial list of what the statutes refer to as crimes of violence



Have you or someone you care about been charged with robbery or accused of a robbery in Pinellas County, Clearwater, St. Petersburg or surrounding areas?



     People think of robbery as a person with a gun holding someone up.  There are several things that may be called a robbery, some more serious than others.  In any event, it would be wise to immediately contact an experienced and respected robbery defense attorney for a consultation.  Our consultation is free and there is no obligation.  Many people call us before there is an arrest when they think an investigation may involve them.   We have been successful at advising people what to do, or more importantly often, what not to do.  And, as a result we have avoided arrests altogether in many cases.  

      What is Robbery?  Robbery generally means  ‘taking money or other property from a person or from the  custody or control of another person with the intent to  deprive the person or the owner of that money or property, either permanently or even  temporarily’.   What makes something a robbery instead of a theft is that in the course of taking something there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting someone in fear in order to get the item. 

     Burglary and robbery are not the same thing.  When some people say ‘my house was robbed’ they are usually referring to a burglary.  Houses can not be robbed, only people.  If  someone was home and confronted at the time that would convert a burglary in to a robbery, or even a home invasion.

     Robbery by sudden snatching  is a third degree felony which carries up to five years in prison maximum.  However, if someone carried a weapon during the snatching even if they did not display it, the degree of crime increases to a second degree felony, and  a fifteen year maximum.   Robbery by sudden snatching means basicly grabbing something from someone and taking it.  The taking of an item from a person by using any amount of force beyond that effort necessary to pick up the money or other property can convert a theft in to a robbery, or that if there was resistance offered by the possessor of the property that can convert a theft in to a robbery.  A robbery by sudden snatching does not involve a weapon.  An example would be snatching a purse from someone in a mall parking lot or taking an item out of someone’s hand quickly and unexpectedly  and the person tries to hold on to it, and some force is used to take it.   

      Defenses we look closely into  in a robbery charge  is whether the charge was actually a theft or whether there was sufficient force to support a robbery.  If it is questionable it may be possible to get a charge reduced from robbery to theft, even a petit theft which would be a misdemeanor.  Common types of robbery charges are purse snatching, bicycle theft, and items taken from retail stores where a security guard is involved and tries to detain someone . 

      Use of Weapons or Firearms – if during the course of a robbery the offender carried a firearm or another deadly weapon the robbery is increased to a felony of the second degree carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Also, See below for specific penalties regarding crimes involving the possession or use of firearms and any other minimum penalties, such as Florida’s 10 – 20 – life statute.  Florida law deems that something occurs ‘during the course of a robbery’ if it occurs in an attempt to commit the robbery or in fleeing after the attempt to commit the robbery. So if someone is trying to get away and pushes someone or fights someone to get away it will be a robbery.


Home invasion robbery

     A home invasion robbery is a robbery that occurs when someone enters a house or dwelling without permission, usually by force, with the intent to rob the occupants therein. This is a felony of the first degree carrying a maximum 30 years in prison.   If a weapon is carried the 10 year minimum under Florida’s 10-20-life statute applies.  If a gun is fired the 20 year minimum applies, and if someone is shot the mandatory life sentence could apply. Again, see below for specific penalties regarding crimes involving the possession or use of firearms and any other minimum penalties, such as Florida’s 10 – 20 – life statute.

Use of a firearm during the commission of a crime

10–20–Life Laws


      Whenever a person is charged with a felony, except a felony in which the use of a weapon or firearm is  already an essential element, and during the commission of that felony the person carries, displays, uses, or threatens to use  weapon, the felony for which the person is charged to be reclassified to a higher degree felony. If a minimum mandatory sentence applies for a weapons offense, such as the 10-20-life minimum. the minimum mandatory overrides the maximum statutory penalty.  If a person carries a firearm during the commission of a felony under Florida’s 10-20- life statute that person is subject to a 10 year minimum prison sentence. If a firearm is discharged during the commission of a felony and does not strike a person, there is a 20 year minimum sentence. If a person is shot during the commission of a felony the mandatory 25 year minimum to life sentence may be applicable. These are, obviously, serious accusations. If a person has been arrested for or suspected of an offense involving a firearm that person should contact a Board Certified Criminal Trial Attorney with a great deal of  experience in defending people on  weapons and firearm offenses.  We have that experience from both sides.  Larry Sandefer is well known and respected in defending violent crimes. 

     Do not despair,  robbery and violent crime charges can be successfully fought and won.  There are defenses to violent crimes that should be explored and strategies that we will discuss with you. Never think that there are no defenses to your case.  Call us and let us go over your case confidentially in a free, no obligation consultation.

      Other types of firearm offenses include improper sale of a firearm, shooting into an occupied dwelling possession of a short barreled rifle or shotgun, a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and carrying a concealed firearm.

Assault/aggravated assault

      Simple assault is a second degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.  The difference between an assault and battery is that an assault generally does not involve any contact but involves a threat to do violence to another person while having the ability to do so, and creating a well-founded fear in the other person that violence is about to take place.  A battery is actually touching or striking someone against their will.  Battery is generally a first degree misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of up to a year in jail.  Felony battery is discussed below.

     An ‘aggravated’ assault is a threat to do harm by  word or act while having a deadly weapon.  It can also be by driving a motor vehicle at someone.

     A deadly weapon can be a gun, a knife, or anything which could cause serious injury.  A defense to be looked at in aggravated assault accusations is whether the so-called “weapon”  is a ‘deadly’ weapon or not. Another defense which should be explored is whether the person really had the apparent ability to carry out the threat. Were they too far away, were they not serious?   What about the so called victim’s credibility or motive to make something up?

      Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony carrying a maximum of of a five-year prison sentence. Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 60 days in the County jail.

Battery / Aggravated Battery/Felony Battery

     Battery is actually or intentionally touching or striking another person against their will or intentionally causing harm to a person. A misdemeanor battery is a misdemeanor of the first degree with a penalty of a maximum of one year in the County jail. If a person has a prior battery conviction, what would have been a misdemeanor battery becomes a felony battery simply because of the prior conviction. A felony battery because there is a prior battery is a felony of the third degree and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

A domestic battery occurs if there is a domestic relationship between the people. This can be a dating relationship or a family or household relationship. Special procedures and defenses apply to domestic battery. Please check out our section on this website regarding domestic battery.

     An aggravated battery occurs when a person causes serious injuries to a person.  If they cause the serious injuries intentionally or knowingly and cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a person, or use a deadly weapon the penalty is greater. It is also an aggravated battery if the person struck was pregnant and the offender knew it or should have known it at the time.

     The Florida punishment code assigns certain scores for certain offenses. Aggravated battery  intentionally causes serious injuries normally will carry a score that will call for a presumptive minimum state prison sentence.   Aggravated battery charges are taken very seriously by the prosecuting attorney and should not be dealt with lightly by a person accused.

    Do not assume that because the complainant has changed his or her mind about prosecuting or because you may think it is obvious that they are lying, that charges will not be filed.  You should take this seriously and at the very least meet with an attorney who is highly experienced and well known for defending these cases.   This is true even, and especially, if the alleged victim no longer wishes to pursue the charges. Florida prosecuting authorities do not have to drop charges when a witness or alleged victim request that they do. Prosecutors will often proceed with charges under these circumstances. If you are charged with aggravated battery you should consult with and seek the help of an experienced aggravated battery defense attorney.   Larry Sandefer  is an experienced  aggravated battery defense lawyer.   Call us and come in for our free consultation to discuss your individual circumstances and case.
Read more on Assault / Battery Offenses

Battery on Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders-Serious Charges

      An assault on a law enforcement officer or first responder is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If it is an aggravated assault it becomes a felony of the third degree and carries a minimum prison term of three years. However, a battery on a law enforcement officer or first responder is a felony of the third degree. We, unfortunately, see these charges all of the time.   If it is an aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer it becomes a felony of the first degree carrying a minimum prison term of five years and a maximum of 30 years.
Read more on Battery on Law Enforcement Officers

Resisting arrest

     People who get arrested are often times charged with the additional charge of resisting arrest either with violence or without violence. Resisting arrest without violence means a person “resisted” but did not use force. This may occur when a person is accused of running, giving false information, or not complying with police orders. Resisting arrest without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor. A defense to resisting arrest without violence can be that the arrest itself was not a legal arrest. This defense does not apply to a felony charge.

      A person who resists an arrest with any type of force  may be charged with resisting arrest with violence, which is a third-degree felony.  Although intoxication is not a defense to a resisting charge, that and other factors may come into play regarding mitigation or intent.

      If you are charged with these offenses you should talk about the individual facts of your case with an attorney experienced in battery on a law enforcement cases and who has handled hundreds of resisting arrest charges. Please see our experience and qualifications and call us. All initial consultations are at no charge and are in the strictest of confidence.

Crimes involving death or serious injury

           Many types of charges can result when there has been a death or serious injury. The resulting charge may be a homicide, which can be a first degree murder, a second degree murder, manslaughter, or can be justifiable homicide or self defense. Other offenses involving death or serious include vehicular homicide, aggravated battery, leaving the scene of an accident, road rage, and a variety of other offenses. If you are accused or charged with DUI involving serious injuries or DUI manslaughter please view our information in the DUI section of this website.  Florida has enacted strict and severe laws regarding these charges. You should seek the immediate advice of an experienced DUI Manslaughter or DUI Serious Injury Lawyer. Larry Sandefer has extensive experience in this area. 

     Each type of charge can carry severe consequences. Each also has specific defenses which may apply and legal issues unique to that charge. These types of accusations can be and are life  altering to say the least.  Whenever there is a death or serious injury medical and scientific evidence will be involved. Larry Sandefer has extensive experience in death and injury cases including legal and  evidentiary issues that will be involved. We have access to medical, toxicology,  and scientific experts that will help us in your defense. Do not assume that your case or a loved one’s case is defenseless.   Let us talk with you about what we can do to defend your case and your freedom.

Murder, Homicide, Manslaughter Defense

When Experience Counts, Count on Experience

     As a division director at the state attorneys office Larry was on-call to go out to homicides in Pinellas County all hours of the day and night as part of  the homicide response team. He would be called to the scene of suspected or confirmed homicides with the police and before the scene was touched to advise law enforcement regarding the crime scene and investigation. 


Larry  has presented homicide and death cases to the Grand Jury in Pinellas county for the Grand Jury’s consideration of whether to bring  an Indictment.

      He is very familiar with crime scene techniques and evidence procedures in all types of cases including the preservation of evidence, chain of custody issues, collection techniques, and the sciences of forensic evidence . These include DNA, fingerprints, polygraphs, blood spatter experts, blood analysis, tire tread and shoe mark analysis, strangulation, injection of substances in to the human body, contract killings, police questioning techniques and violation of rights, child witnesses, child hearsay, wiretaps, authorization or wire intercepts, grounds for obtaining search warrants, fourth amendment search issues, and much more.  He has experience in all of these areas and has obtained training both as a prosecutor and as a private attorney in these critical areas.

       Larry Sandefer Is an experienced homicide defense lawyer and murder defense lawyer. He has extensive experience in representing people charged with murder, homicide, or offenses resulting in death. He prosecuted murders from the prosecution side before opening his defense practice.  He has tried more than 20 murder cases to verdict and has successfully handled many more. These homicide cases included multi-jurisdictional cases where Mr. Sandefer worked closely with authorities in other states to investigate or resolve murder cases in such states as Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, and California.  As a homicide defense attorney he has handled court appointed murder cases as well as privately retained cases. 

      While a Division Director at the office the state attorney he was called to the scene of homicides to advise the police. He knows both sides of a homicide case and the types of evidence which are collected and which are sought to be introduced, viable defenses and how to approach and attack a murder accusation . He will fight for your rights and your freedom. Experts are often necessary for advice and use in any homicide or death case. We have contacts with and access to the best experts in fields such as blood, toxicology, cause of death, shaken baby syndrome, fingerprints, DNA, Voice analysis, out of court identification, in court identification, false confessions, and many more.

     First degree murder cases may involve a penalty phase. Larry Sandefer has handled many penalty phases as both prosecutor and defense attorney. Mitigation experts are important in cases where the state is seeking the death penalty. While defense to the charge of first-degree murder is paramount, consideration must also be given to preparation for and presentation of mitigation if a penalty phase is necessary.

Sentencing in General

     The Florida punishment code factors in the degree of injury in scoring points which are used by prosecution and judges to determine what a minimum, or presumptive, sentence should be in all cases including violent crimes. An injury under the punishment code can be classified as slight, moderate, severe, or death. The number of points assigned for each type of injury is different and each can have a dramatic effect on scoring under the punishment code. Case law and factual differences can allow us to argue that lower points should or may apply in many cases, significantly impacting the resulting sentence upon a plea or conviction.

     Florida statutes do recognize certain mitigating factors for defense, and the facts of each individual case may present individual defenses to certain charges or degrees of offenses. These are matters which should be discussed with an experienced robbery, violent crime, or weapons offense defense attorney. Please visit our section on experience and qualifications and contact us. We look forward to helping you.

      If you are involved in a charge or accusation where someone was injured, or is claiming injury, or where a death has occurred, and you are looking for the best defense attorney for you, seek the assistance of an experienced violent crime defense attorney immediately. There are things which you can do to help your own defense and things that can be done not only to mitigate these charges but defenses which should be discussed and explored.


Larry Sandefer – Criminal Defense Attorney