Hurricanes can be catastrophic, and they often leave devastation wherever they go. With Hurricane Irma steadily growing stronger, it is important to know how to prepare for a hurricane, and how to avoid criminal charges when you and your family are faced with overwhelming damages and losses.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime after Hurricane Irma, contact Erika Valcarcel at Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A.. Erika Valcarcel can discuss your case during a free and confidential consultation and plan your next steps. Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900.
Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
There are multiple ways in which you and your family can prepare for Hurricane Irma. Some important tips to follow are:
- Know your surrounding area. It is important to know your area in order to be aware of what can happen where you live. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding and hurricanes, you can make sure you are prepared for a natural disaster.
- Have an emergency kit ready. You should have at least three days worth of food and water on hand at all times. In addition, you should always have several flashlights, extra cash, and a first aid kit on hand.
- Be alert and listen to the weather warnings. By staying alert to the current weather warnings, you and your family can ensure your safety by knowing if/when you should evacuate your area.
- Download the American Red Cross Shelter Finder App. This app will show you the locations of the closest hurricane shelters and their remaining capacity.
- Have an emergency plan for your family and pets. Having a plan in place will ensure that you and your family know what to do and where to meet up if you get separated during a hurricane or other natural disaster.
Penalties for Common Crimes During Natural Disasters
After a hurricane, people in need sometimes turn to crime in order to keep themselves and their families from being deprived of their basic needs. These crimes all have serious penalties in Florida law. Some common crimes and their penalties are:
- Looting and Criminal Mischief- The penalty varies on the amount looted. A second-degree misdemeanor charge will be given if the damage is under $200, which can lead to a $500 fine and as long as 60 days in jail. If the damage is between $200 and $1,000, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor with penalties of one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. When the damage surpasses $1,000, it becomes a third-degree felony with fives years in prison and $5,000 worth of fines.
- Petit Theft or Shoplifting– These charges are common after a hurricane, when people are seeking resources from damaged businesses. If the value of items stolen was less than $100, you may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and spend up to 60 days in jail with a $500 fine. If the value of items was between $100 and $300, you may face a first-degree misdemeanor charge with up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Trespassing- Trespassing crimes usually result in 60 days in jail and a second-degree misdemeanor charge. If there is an individual on the property while trespassing, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor and subject to up to one year in jail. If you are armed while trespassing, you will be charged with a third-degree felony and up to five years in prison.
- Price Gouging- It is illegal in Florida to increase the prices of everyday essentials in an emergency. There is a $1,000 fine per price gouge and a maximum of $25,000 in fines within 24 hours. Many small business owners must be careful not to price gouge during Hurricane Irma.
How a Sarasota Attorney Can Help if You Are Charged With a Crime
Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. understands that when you and your family are faced with devastating circumstances, you want to be able to ensure your and your loved ones’ safety and well-being. If you have been charged with a crime during Hurricane Irma, contact Erika Valcarcel today.
Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900 for a free consultation.View All Blogs