In 2014, Neighborhood Scout released a list of the 100 most dangerous cities in the United States based on population and FBI data regarding local violent crimes. California had 10 cities on the list. Texas had five. New York had four.
But the state with the most cities was – you guessed it – Florida. According to the study, we had 11 of the most dangerous cities in the country.
What were those cities?
- 90. Lauderdale Lakes
- 83. Pompano Beach
- 82. Miami Beach
- 81. Orlando
- 64. Fort Pierce
- 62. Daytona
- 58. Miami
- 57. Fort Myers
- 42. Lake Worth
- 37. Riviera Beach
- 18. Homestead
So if you happen to live in any of these cities, a majority of them right here in South Florida, there’s a higher likelihood of not only being a victim of a violent crime, but also of being accused of a violent crime.
What We Mean When We Call a Crime “Violent”
When we look at crime, it usually falls into one of two categories: violent and non-violent crimes. Both types of crimes are taken seriously here in Florida.
A non-violent crime is a crime that typically doesn’t involve the use of force or injury to another person. And since there isn’t force or injury, the seriousness of these crimes is generally measured in terms of the value of the amount of money or property lost. Non-violent crimes can include theft and other property crimes, fraud and similar white collar crimes, and drug or alcohol related crimes.
Crimes of violence, on the other hand, typically do involve the use of force or injury to another person, or simply just the threat of force or injury. That means you don’t actually have to commit the act of violence. And simply causing someone psychological trauma could also qualify as a violent crime.
The seriousness of violent crimes, then, is usually determined by the severity of harm caused to the victim. The greater the harm, the greater the criminal consequences. And the use of a weapon can also increase the severity of the crime.
Under Florida law, violent crimes include:
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated abuse of a child, elderly person, or disabled adult
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
- Manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter of a child, elderly person, or disabled adult
- Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
- Armed burglary
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated stalking
And if you are convicted more than once of a violent crime, you could be labeled as a “habitual violent felony offender,” which means your prison term can be further extended.
Despite Stats, Violence Gets All the Attention
The FBI has compiled data from cities throughout Florida, tracking the incidences of both violent and non-violent crimes in a year. While the numbers of violent crimes can be on the high side, especially in a larger city, the number of property crimes – usually considered to be non-violent crimes – are even higher, up to four times as high.
So what can we conclude from this?
First, that while parts of Florida may be “dangerous” to live in, that danger is more about losing property than being physically harmed. It’s important to remember this, because we tend to see more violent crimes on the news due to the inherent drama involved in these types of cases. But non-violent crimes should perhaps be getting more attention since there are so many more of them committed.
And second, that being in an area with high levels of violent crime may increase your chances of being arrested – but it shouldn’t cause you to lie down and simply accept the charges. Understanding the law is the first step in being able to fight back.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.