In Florida, robbery itself is a serious crime. If you're unarmed and you take someone's property using force or violence or by causing fear, you could be facing a second-degree felony charge. A conviction could result in a court sentencing you to a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or fine you up to $10,000.
But did you know that wearing a mask while committing a robbery can lead to increased penalties? Florida has a law stating that people who wear any covering over their faces to conceal their identity while committing a crime can be charged at the next higher degree for the underlying offense.
Thus, if you rob someone and you have on a mask, hood, or other facial covering, the offense jumps up from a second-degree felony to a first-degree. Instead of being sentenced to imprisonment for up to a decade and a half, which is already severe, you may be incarcerated for a maximum of 30 years. However, the maximum fine will remain at $10,000, as the amount for second- and first-degree felonies is the same.
The Law Applies to More than Just Robbery
Although this blog began with a discussion of robbery charges, it's important to note that Florida's mask law applies not just to that offense. Nearly any felony or misdemeanor committed while the actor's face is covered will be elevated to the next higher degree.
The following charge increase can occur under the mask law:
- A second-degree misdemeanor becomes a first-degree misdemeanor
- Jail time increases from a maximum of 60 days to a maximum of 1 year
- Fine increases from a maximum of $500 to up a maximum of $1,000
- A first-degree misdemeanor becomes a third-degree felony
- Incarceration increases from a maximum jail term of 1 year to a maximum prison term of 5 years
- Fine increases from a maximum of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000
- A third-degree felony becomes a second-degree felony
- The term of imprisonment goes from not more than 5 years to not more than 15 years
- Fine increases from a maximum of $5,000 to a maximum of $10,000
- A second-degree felony becomes a first-degree felony
- Incarceration increases from up to 15 years to up to 30 years
- Fine stays the same
The increased conviction penalties for wearing a mask while committing a robbery or any other offense are severe. But you may have options to fight your charge and work toward avoiding or minimizing the punishments. To do so effectively, you need the help of a skilled lawyer.
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., our Miami attorneys have nearly 50 years of combined experience and have taken on complex cases. We know how to aggressively defend against accusations and have obtained favorable results for past clients.
For the legal help you need, call us at (305) 330-1360 or contact us online today.