Parkland, Florida is a smaller suburb in Broward, west of Coconut Creek and just east of the Everglades. The city was named for its abundance of parks (nine in all), with Pine Trails Park being a top draw for sports and recreation teams throughout Broward County.
As a longtime Parkland criminal defense lawyer, I can attest to the fact that the city has never really had a notable issue with pervasive criminal activity. It’s largely considered a sleepy suburb, though there’s always the occasional theft or DUI. But as for violent crimes, the FBI UCR reported in a single recent year just 9 violent crimes in Parkland, a city of 35,000 residents. Most of those were alleged aggravated assaults, which include domestic violence incidents. None were homicides.
While the statewide violent crime rate in Florida is 3.92 crimes per 1,000 residents, in Parkland, it’s just 0.2 per 1,000. Similar trend with property crimes, with Florida having a rate of 17.46 per 1,000 residents and Parkland reporting 5.64 per 1,000 residents.
In 2018, however, the city became infamous as the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. A 19-year-old former student walked into the city’s sole public high school on Valentine’s Day and proceeded to kill 17 people (14 students, 3 staffers) and injure 17 others. The defendant was arrested, pleaded guilty, and sentenced to life in prison.
Tragic and notorious as the case was, it was a major outlier in terms of what is typical with Parkland arrests and reported crimes.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were 144 total arrests by the Parkland Police Department in a single recent year.
Of those total arrests, 18 percent were juvenile arrests, which is higher than average compared to most other cities in Florida. Juvenile arrests in Parkland need to be handled by a defense lawyer familiar with the unique systems and consequences of delinquency proceedings. The focus is more geared toward accountability than punishment, but the impacts can still be significant if the youth. As noted by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, there are a number of alternatives to formal processing in Parkland juvenile cases. These include:
- Diversion programs. There are 12 different diversion programs for first-time misdemeanor or non-violent third-degree felony offenses.
- Juvenile drug court. One track is designed for youths facing first-time misdemeanor or non-violent felony drug charges, and the other is for juveniles who don’t fit that criteria but are identified as having a drug problem.
- Juvenile civil citation program. This was always an option, but in 2021, prosecutors, police, and community members signed a memo of understanding of a preference for civil citations over criminal charges for those under 17 accused of minor, misdemeanor offenses.
- PROMISE Program. This program aims to address school-based arrests for minor offenses. Students facing certain misdemeanor charges for offenses committed on school grounds are given the opportunity to face school discipline rather than arrest.
With both juvenile and adult offenses, the vast majority were classified as simple assaults or thefts. There were only a handful of DUIs, motor vehicle thefts, and drug charges. Numerous instances of weapons violations, vandalism, and embezzlement were reported as well.
The Parkland PD and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office provide merged policing services in the city. The district has an annual operating budget of more than $9 million, and BSO staffs 54 policing positions in the city - including 40 deputies, 9 supervisors, and 5 administrators.
Most criminal matters will be prosecuted by the state attorney’s office for Florida’s 17th Judicial Circuit, with most proceedings handled in the North Regional Courthouse in Deerfield Beach.Arrested in Parkland, FL? Why You Should Hire a Lawyer
The fact that crime is not particularly commonplace in Parkland doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously if you’re arrested. Actually, you should probably take it more seriously. Police agencies and prosecutors that aren’t as tied up with other cases will have more time and personnel to devote to the investigation and prosecution of your case. That puts you at a disadvantage, especially if you don’t have an experienced Parkland criminal defense lawyer advocating for you.
At The Ansara Law Firm, we provide a strong, comprehensive legal defense to those who find themselves entangled in the criminal justice system. We take the time to carefully listen to your side of the story, thoroughly evaluate your case, and craft defense strategies that will address the unique circumstances of the issues at hand.
Protecting your constitutional rights is a top priority for us, and we meticulously review police reports, body camera footage, surveillance video, and witness statements to determine whether police followed proper procedure and respected your due process rights throughout the legal process. If they slipped up, it’s possible that key evidence against you could be suppressed.
I have a track record of proven success in negotiating with prosecutors for reduced charges and favorable plea deals for my clients when it’s in their best interests. I will always press for the best possible outcome in your case, and I won’t shy away from a trial if that’s what it takes.
Although I understand the initial cost of hiring a lawyer puts off many defendants from doing so, the reality when you're facing criminal charges is that good legal advice can save you both money and complicated difficulties in the long-run. Unless you’re facing jail time AND you’re indigent, you’re not entitled to the services of a free public defender. Furthermore, while there are many highly-skilled public defenders, the hard truth is they are often spread thin with sizable caseloads. Even the best public defender isn't likely to have the same capacity to devote to your case as a private criminal defense attorney.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Parkland, Florida, please reach out to our team for a free, confidential consultation.
For Parkland defense representation in criminal matters, contact The Ansara Law Firm in Broward County at (954) 761-4011.