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Criminal Defense Lawyers in Florida

Lawyer Legion Criminal Defense Information Center of Florida

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Criminal Defense Lawyers by County


Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Florida

Lawyer Legion Top Picks for 2024

Lawyer Legion created this list of the top picks in 2024 for the best criminal defense attorneys in Florida. To rank the top criminal defense attorneys, DUI defense attorneys, and other lawyers in Florida, we used both objective and subjective criteria.

The top criminal defense attorneys were selected based on their career accomplishments, success in high profile cases, professional involvement, community leadership, and board certification.

This list represents some of the most highly accomplished criminal defense lawyers currently practicing in Florida. When reviewing this list, please be aware of each of the following:

  • Lawyers cannot pay to be included in this list.
  • Only lawyers who are active on Lawyer Legion were selected.
  • No online directory can accurately determine a statewide list of attorneys who are actually “the best” at practicing criminal law (but our list comes close).
Stephen Cobb
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Fort Walton Beach, FL
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Denis Michael DeVlaming
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Clearwater, FL
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Diane Buerger
The Buerger Law Firm, P.A.
Bartow, FL
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Donald Alan Lykkebak
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Winter Park, FL
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Michael Salnick
Criminal Defense Lawyer
West Palm Beach, FL
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Karen Jean Tufte
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Fort Pierce, FL
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Richard Hornsby
Criminal Defense and Drug Crimes Lawyer
Orlando, FL
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Jeffrey Mark Harris
Criminal Defense and Federal Crimes Lawyer
Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Steve Rossi
Criminal Defense and Education Lawyer
Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Jeffrey S Weiner
White Collar Crime and Civil Trial Lawyer
Miami, FL
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John Eric Romano
Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Lawyer
Lake Worth, FL
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Robert Scott Reiff
Criminal and DUI Defense Lawyer
Miami, FL
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More Noteworthy Florida Attorneys

Florida Legal Resources

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O'Mara Law Group | Orlando Criminal Lawyer

Criminal Defense Bar Associations and Legal Organizations

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) - Founded in 1958, NACDL is the largest organization for criminal defense lawyers fighting to preserve fairness within America's criminal justice system. The organization has more than 10,000 direct members including criminal defense attorneys in private practice, public defenders in state or federal court, U.S. military defense counsel, law professors and judges.
Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) - The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) was founded in 1988. Since its creation, FACDL has continued to promote excellence in the practice of criminal law and protect the rights of the accused. Its members includes public and private criminal justice attorneys serving the needs of the criminal defense bar in Florida. The FACDL offers attorneys listings for criminal defense attorneys on their website.
Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (BACDL) - The Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (BACDL) is a professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in criminal defense practice in Broward County, Florida. With a focus on legal education, networking, and advocacy, the association provides resources and support for defense attorneys to enhance their skills and contribute to the fair administration of justice within the local criminal justice system.
Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (CFACDL) - The Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is a reputable organization committed to advancing the quality of criminal defense representation in the Central Florida region. By fostering education, collaboration, and advocacy among defense attorneys, the association plays a vital role in upholding justice and protecting the rights of individuals within the local criminal justice system.
Miami Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers - FACDL-MIAMI is a county-level professional association of criminal defense lawyers practicing in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The Miami Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL) includes private criminal defense attorneys and public defenders practicing in state and federal court. The organization provides educational resources to lawyers while advocating for the constitutional rights of the accused. View the Lawyer Legion profile of FACDL-MIAMI to learn more.
Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PBACDL) - The Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PBACDL), a non-profit organization in West Palm Beach, FL, brings together a diverse membership of private criminal defense attorneys, public defenders, and regional conflict counsel. Through its collaborative efforts, PBACDL strives to elevate the standards of criminal defense practice while fostering professional growth and mutual support among its members in the Palm Beach County legal community.
Pinellas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL) - The Pinellas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is a dynamic organization based in Pinellas County, Florida. Comprised of dedicated private defense attorneys, public defenders, and legal professionals, the association fosters a robust network for sharing expertise, advancing legal education, and advocating for justice. Through its collective efforts, the PACDL plays a pivotal role in upholding the rights of individuals within the local criminal justice system.

Specialty Certifications in Criminal Defense

Criminal Trial Law - The field of criminal law as a specialty practice area for certification was originally established in 1987. The Florida Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) of The Florida Bar governs the rules and policies for each of the certification areas. An attorney who is a member in good standing and has met the requirements for certification may be issued an appropriate certificate identifying the lawyer as either "Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law" or "Board Certified in Criminal Appellate Law."
Criminal Appellate Law - The standards for board certification in criminal appellate law can be found in Rule 6-8. The purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice criminal law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as the character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, to be properly identified to the public as a board-certified in appellate law. Also, the certification is awarded by the Florida Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE).
Juvenile Law - Learn more about how attorneys can become Board Certification in Juvenile Law in Florida. The minimum standards for juvenile law certification are explained in Rule 6-29.3. Task requirements include handling of at least 10 fully adjudicated trials or appellate proceedings arising from petitions for dependency, termination of parental rights, or delinquency, of which occurred during the five years immediately preceding application.
Criminal Trial Law - The specialty area of Criminal Trial Law is offered by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) to lawyers. To earn NBTA board certification, the criminal defense attorney must show substantial involvement in at least 45 days of trial, must have served as lead counsel in jury cases through verdict; conducted direct examinations and cross-examinations, and conducted a specified number of voir dire, opening statements and closing arguments.
DUI Defense Law - The National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) is an organization that grants specialty or board certification for DUI Defense Law. The ABA has recognized the NCDD as an organization that is accredited to award certification in this specialty area of the law. The purpose of granting board certification in DUI Defense Law is to recognize DUI and DWI lawyers who focus their practice on representing men and women accused of drunk and impaired driving offenses. In order to qualify for board certification in "DUI Defense Law," the attorney must meet specific qualifications and apply for board certification with NCDD.

Florida Government and Court Resources

Florida Attorney General

Florida Attorney General - The Florida Attorney General serves as Florida's chief legal officer and advisor, responsible for representing Florida in legal matters, providing counsel to state agencies, and ensuring the protection of consumers and citizens' rights. This elected official plays a vital role in upholding the law, prosecuting criminal cases, defending the state's interests, and advocating for justice on behalf of Florida's diverse population.

Florida Courts

Florida Courts - The Florida Courts are responsible for upholding the rule of law and ensuring the fair and impartial administration of justice within the state. Their duties encompass interpreting and applying the law, adjudicating civil and criminal cases, safeguarding individual rights, ensuring due process, and overseeing Juvenile law. The Florida judicial system also plays a crucial role in addressing legal issues unique to the state, such as those related to its diverse population and coastal geography.

Florida Legislature

Florida Legislature - The Florida Legislature operates as a bicameral body, consisting of the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives. The Senate has 40 members serving four-year terms, while the House comprises 120 members with two-year terms. The Legislature is responsible for proposing, debating, and passing laws that govern the state. Its duties include crafting the state budget, levying taxes, and addressing various policy matters such as education, healthcare, and environmental regulations.

FPDA - Florida Public Defender Association

FPDA - Florida Public Defender Association - The Florida Public Defender's Association safeguards the rights of indigent individuals facing criminal charges. Through a robust framework of advocacy, educational initiatives, and collaborative efforts, the association empowers its members with the tools and knowledge needed to provide effective and ethical legal representation. By promoting justice and equity, the association ensures quality defense for all, regardless of financial means.

Supreme Court of Florida

Supreme Court of Florida - The Florida Supreme Court, established in 1845, serves as the pinnacle of Florida's judicial structure. With a mandate to ensure consistency and fairness in the application of the law, the court reviews appeals from lower courts, offers advisory opinions, and sets legal precedents. Its influential decisions impact a wide array of legal issues, from constitutional matters to civil disputes and criminal cases, shaping the interpretation and implementation of laws throughout Florida.

Florida Law Enforcement Agencies

FDLE - Florida Department of Law Enforcement - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) functions as Florida's primary law enforcement agency, dedicated to promoting public safety and maintaining the rule of law. FDLE undertakes a comprehensive range of tasks, including criminal investigations, forensic analysis, crime prevention initiatives, and coordination of law enforcement efforts across Florida's diverse jurisdictions. Its pivotal role ensures effective collaboration and enforcement for the well-being of Florida residents.

FDLE - Florida Department of Law Enforcement
2331 Phillips Road,
Tallahassee, FL 32308

Florida Highway Patrol - Established in 1939, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) stands as a crucial guardian of road safety. Operating under the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, FHP diligently enforces traffic laws, responds to emergencies, investigates accidents, and educates the public on responsible driving. With over eight decades of service, FHP remains dedicated to safeguarding lives and ensuring secure travel on Florida's roadways.

Florida Highway Patrol
2900 Apalachee Parkway,
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Overview of Florida Criminal Law

Florida's criminal defense landscape is shaped by its distinct legal framework, regional nuances, and unique challenges. From bustling urban centers to serene coastal towns, the state presents a diverse range of legal scenarios that demand specialized expertise from defense attorneys.

Florida's reputation as a tourist destination results in a transient population. Defense attorneys often handle cases involving out-of-state visitors who find themselves facing legal issues away from home. Florida's geographic location also makes it a hotspot for drug-related crimes. Attorneys are well-versed in navigating complex drug laws and sentencing guidelines, particularly in cases involving trafficking, distribution, and possession.

Qualifications for Criminal Defense Attorneys in Florida

Prospective criminal defense attorneys in Florida must first earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school. After obtaining a J.D. degree, individuals must pass the Florida Bar Examination. As part of the bar admission process, aspiring attorneys undergo a character and fitness evaluation. Successful completion of the bar examination and character and fitness review grants individuals membership to The Florida Bar, the state's mandatory professional organization for attorneys. 

 Criminal defense attorneys must engage in ongoing professional development through Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. Florida requires attorneys to complete a minimum of 33 CLE credit hours every three years to maintain their legal proficiency and uphold their professional qualifications.

 Criminal defense attorneys in Florida must adhere to the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct, which govern ethical behavior, client confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and other aspects of attorney-client relationships. 

 While not mandatory, some criminal defense attorneys choose to become board-certified specialists in criminal trial law through The Florida Bar. Board certification demonstrates a high level of expertise and accomplishment in the field.

These qualifications ensure that criminal defense attorneys in Florida possess the knowledge, skills, and ethical standards necessary to competently represent clients within the state's criminal justice system. As legal advocates, these professionals play a vital role in safeguarding the rights and interests of individuals accused of crimes in Florida.

Criminal Law in Florida

Florida law distinguishes between criminal traffic offenses (like DUI) and civil traffic infractions (such as speeding tickets), requiring specialized defense strategies. As well as this, Florida's notable "Stand Your Ground" law grants individuals the right to use force, including deadly force, in self-defense situations. 

 Florida's criminal laws are primarily codified in the Florida Statutes, Title XLVI (Crimes), which outlines a comprehensive list of criminal offenses, classifications, and associated penalties. The statutes cover a wide range of crimes, from misdemeanors to felonies, encompassing everything from theft and assault to more complex offenses like drug trafficking and white-collar crime.

 Crimes in Florida are categorized into different degrees of severity, including first-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, third-degree felonies, and misdemeanors. Each classification carries specific penalties, which may include fines, imprisonment, probation, or a combination thereof.

 Florida's criminal law framework for juveniles is covered under Title XLVII (Criminal Procedure and Corrections), specifically Chapter 985, which outlines procedures for handling cases involving minors.

 Understanding and navigating the format of Florida Criminal Law requires a deep knowledge of the Florida Statutes, relevant case law, and legal precedents. Criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement professionals play crucial roles in ensuring that justice is administered fairly and in accordance with Florida's legal framework.

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