County Court Division
The County Court Division handles all misdemeanor cases — more than 32,000 cases were opened in 2022. These are crimes that can be sentenced to up to one year in the Palm Beach County Jail. Some examples of misdemeanor crimes are: DUI, Battery, Trespass, and Retail Theft.
Misdemeanor cases requiring a jury trial are administered at the main Courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach. In 2022 there were more than 200 misdemeanor trials, about 95 percent of them were jury trials. Each misdemeanor prosecutor handles about 150 cases at any given time.
Many misdemeanor cases come in to the State Attorney satellite offices in Belle Glade, North County, and South County. Many result in plea offers and pretrial diversion. Close coordination is required to insure efficient handling of all these cases. If a jury trial is requested, those cases are transferred to the main Courthouse in West Palm Beach.
Another County Court function is DUI Intake. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol is one of the most serious of offenses handled in County Court. About 2,500 DUI cases were prosecuted in 2022.
Domestic Violence (D.O.V.E.) Unit
In Florida, a “domestic” relationship exists if the parties are spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family member or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common, regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
The Domestic Violence Elimination (“DOVE”) Unit is a specialized unit within our office, as contemplated by Florida Statutes Section 741.2901(1). The DOVE Unit consists of eight attorneys and ten victim advocates. Each attorney in the DOVE Unit focuses solely on the prosecution of domestic, intimate partner, and family violence cases.
Our victim advocates contact victims within the first 24 hours of an arrest, are present at first appearance hearings to assist victims who are in crisis, accompany victims to court hearings, and keep victims informed throughout each stage of the criminal case. Each victim is assigned an advocate from our office.
In addition, the DOVE Unit provides assistance such as:
Crimes prosecuted by the Felony Division range from burglaries to attempted first-degree murders, and kidnapping to armed robberies. Key targets for prosecution are crimes involving guns and other violent crimes.
There are 21 prosecutors on the felony line; each handles about 150 cases at any given time.
Felony prosecutors seek sentencing that takes such people off the street and assigns them to the Department of Corrections for years, if not life.
Each case is different, the ultimate objective: to protect the public’s safety.
The Homicide Unit is comprised of seven prosecutors who have dedicated their careers to the prosecution of defendants who are charged with murder. This unit handles complex cases that can and often do result in a sentence of life imprisonment and sometimes the death penalty.
The unit also includes a strong support staff handling the details of case preparation as well as victim advocates to assist the families of the decedent.
In addition to handling the courtroom presentation of the homicide cases, these prosecutors also assist law enforcement with the investigation and prepare the cases for presentation to a Grand Jury.
The Felony Intake Unit is comprised of six experienced attorneys. When law enforcement makes an arrest, or wants to apply for a warrant, the Intake Unit is responsible for reviewing the evidence to determine what, if any, charges are appropriate.
The attorneys consider factors such as the strength of the evidence; the credibility of the witnesses; the defendant’s criminal history or lack of criminal history; and various diversion programs that may be available and appropriate. The Intake Unit also makes a final decision on charging juveniles in adult court, as part of a check and balance system that ensures only the most serious juvenile offenders are prosecuted as adults.
Each Intake prosecutor is paired with specific police agencies and districts/units within the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. That prosecutor reviews all general felony arrests, search warrants, arrest warrants, misdemeanor warrant requests, subpoenas, legal questions, etc. for the officers that work in their assigned agencies and PBSO districts.
This allows our prosecutors to build a close relationship with our law enforcement partners. We provide training to law enforcement upon request, anytime we notice an issue that needs to be addressed, and when there are significant changes in the law.
Recently, we have been involved with PBSO’s body camera training program. Our attorneys are helping to educate 1,800 deputies on how to properly use their body cameras and document their digital evidence, and participate in every training session put on by PBSO.
All investigators who work at the State Attorney’s Office are certified law enforcement officers with full arrest powers.
Investigators can be assigned to specific units or divisions. They are responsible for conducting independent criminal investigations. They also provide assistance to outside police agencies and help attorneys prepare for trial.
After a case is filed at the State Attorney’s Office, the investigators may locate and interview additional witnesses, collect additional evidence, and secure records through subpoenas or search warrants.
In addition, our investigators independently review all officer-involved shootings that occur in Palm Beach County to assist prosecutors in determining if the shooting was justified under the Florida State Statutes which address the use of force by law enforcement officers.
The State Attorney’s Office Juvenile Division is responsible for the prosecution of all juvenile felony and misdemeanor offenses, excluding misdemeanor traffic offenses.
The division makes all juvenile intake and filing decisions, including diversion, direct files to adult court, and grand jury presentations. The division, with 14 prosecutors, reviews approximately 245 cases per month for filing. The division also has a juvenile special victims unit that reviews and prosecutes all sexual abuse cases in which the accused is a juvenile.
A prosecutor in the juvenile division is on call 24 hours per day to respond to questions regarding juvenile law from police and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) employees.
All juvenile trials are non-jury trials. The cases are heard in front of a judge only.
When the police take a juvenile into custody for allegedly committing a crime, the police can either release the youth to the parents or release the youth to the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) where the detention process is initiated. The JAC is run by the DJJ.
The JAC is located at 1100 45th Street, Building A in West Palm Beach, on the same grounds as the Juvenile Detention Center. The facility houses a screening and detainment area for youth taken into custody in Palm Beach County or transported to Palm Beach County from another jurisdiction.
Parents, guardians, or concerned parties can access assistance for youth who are in need of services to prevent the youth from entering the juvenile delinquency system. Young people who are runaways, habitually truant, ungovernable (do not obey their guardians), or homeless – and their families – can receive free services to improve their behaviors, resolve conflicts effectively, and start communicating again by contacting Children’s Home Society or the Urban League of Palm Beach County.
Legal Affairs and Appeals
The Legal Affairs and Appeals section handles criminal and civil matters that arise both pretrial and postconviction.
When a defendant is convicted through a trial, plea, or a sentence, the defendant has the right to file an appeal. Legal Affairs and Appeals works to uphold the guilty verdicts when a defendant appeals the case. In those limited instances in which the State has a legal right to appeal a ruling by the judge, this section is available to the trial attorneys to lay the groundwork for the appeal. All appeals are coordinated with the Attorney General’s Office, who will take the lead in the appellate court.
Postconviction practice at the State Attorney’s Office centers upon claims of newly discovered evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, illegal sentences, and requests for postconviction DNA testing. If a defendant claims he or she has been wrongly convicted of a crime, Legal Affairs works with the defendant’s attorney to review all evidence including DNA to ensure justice is done.
Although the State Attorney’s Office’s primary function is representing the people in criminal courts throughout the circuit, the Florida Legislature also tasks the SAO with significant civil responsibilities. Legal Affairs is responsible for handling the civil matters falling under the purview of the SAO, matters including public records requests, Baker Act proceedings, bond validations, and medical interventions.
Additionally, this unit serves as a resource to the other felony, misdemeanor, and specialty units by offering legal guidance and assistance on cases during pretrial and trial proceedings.
Organized Crime Unit
The Organized Crime Unit at the State Attorney’s Office, known as OCU, is working to make our community safer by partnering with law enforcement on major narcotics operations that target gangs across Palm Beach County.
In the past two years, these efforts led to racketeering cases against a group of criminals who operated from a neighborhood in the north end of West Palm Beach, and two different gangs responsible for a series of shootings and widespread drug activity.
In May 2023, West Palm Beach Police arrested 29 people on charges including racketeering, fentanyl dealing and prostitution in an organized crime takedown a few weeks ago that began out of complaints from people in the community.
West Palm Beach Police Chief Frank Adderley, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James announced the findings of “Operation Blockbuster Fugitives” at a news conference in the 600 block of 54th street.
Of the 29 arrested, 16 are facing RICO or racketeering charges. Each of those defendants could face up to 60 years in prison.
West Palm Beach’s 4th Street Gang was busted in February 2022, following an 18-month investigation dubbed “Operation Goodfellas.” Charges against 19 individuals include racketeering, drug sales, gun violations and attempted first-degree murder. Police seized at least 30 guns, along with narcotics, vehicles, properties and cash. These suspects face a combined total of 3,725 years in prison.
In fall 2021, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office gang unit announced the arrests of eight men and one juvenile from an investigation called “Operation No Face, No Case.” Criminal activities including heroin trafficking, drug and firearm offenses were observed in and near Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach.
OCU is a specialized group of four senior attorneys and three support staff who assist law enforcement from the outset of an investigation of some of the most high-profile targets within our community. The unit assists investigators with wire taps, securing warrants and advising on best practices for collecting evidence against violent offenders and high-level narcotics traffickers suspected of state and federal crimes. OCU’s chief is also an expert on social media, as it can provide key evidence in gang prosecutions and violent offenses.
Following publicized arrests, prosecutors work tirelessly to ensure appropriate sentences for these criminals and securing forfeiture on ill-gotten gains.
Public Corruption Unit
The Public Corruption Unit prosecutes government employees, elected officials and others who violate the public trust. An experienced prosecutor and investigators are assigned to this felony specialty division.
Special Victims Unit
The Special Victims Unit prosecutes crimes of sexual violence involving both adults and children, including human trafficking, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious molestation and the possession, production and distribution of child sexual abuse material. There are seven prosecutors and four victim witness coordinators.
The Special Victims Unit has a prosecutor on duty who can be contacted 24 hours each day, whether by law enforcement officers for emergency help with arrest or search warrants.
SVU is part of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) that is led by Palm Beach County Victim Services. Its mission is to promote “a community-wide response to end sexual violence by coordinating a multi-disciplinary team that will ensure victims receive comprehensive, compassionate care.”
SVU also participates in the state Child Abuse Death Review Committee, which works to eliminate preventable child abuse & neglect deaths in Florida.
The Sober Homes Task Force (SHTF) and Addiction Recovery Task Force (SAART) were created by the legislature in 2016 to conduct a study aimed to strengthen investigation and prosecution of criminal and regulatory violations within the substance use disorder treatment industry, and to ensure that communities remain safe and individuals with substance use disorder are protected. The Task Forces were separated to address statutory and regulatory issues through the SAART, the civilian task force, and criminal prosecution through the SHTF, the law enforcement task force.
Under State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s direction, the SHTF looked to identify and prosecute bad actors in the treatment industry. Our office dedicated two full time prosecutors, two full time investigators, one forensic analyst along with additional support staff. Various local and state law enforcement agencies have dedicated investigators to the SHTF, including West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Riviera Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Criminal prosecutions have included patient brokering, insurance fraud, licensing fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
To date, 123 criminal cases have been filed by the SHTF and 111 have resulted in convictions. The work of the SHTF is ongoing.
Traffic Homicide Unit
The Traffic Homicide Unit reviews every criminal traffic fatality case in Palm Beach County. This unit prosecutes cases including: felony driving under the influence; driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury; leaving the scene involving injury and serious bodily injury; reckless driving involving injury; driving while license suspended causing death and/or serious bodily injury; DUI manslaughter; vehicular homicide; and leaving the scene involving death.
The prosecutors and victim witness coordinators who work in this unit process their own warrants and information and continue to see the case to a resolution whether it’s a negotiated plea or jury trial.
On average, there are 30 traffic fatalities each month in our county. For those traffic fatalities that are deemed to be crimes, prosecutors will often go to the scene to continue to work in connection with the police agencies to investigate and gather information.
White Collar Crime Unit
White Collar Crime is the area of enforcement for crimes committed by an individuals in the course of their job or occupation or against business institutions such as banks or insurance companies.
The White Collar Crime Section has four prosecutors, one forensic accountant, one investigator and one paralegal.
The unit handles investment fraud such as Ponzi or pyramid schemes, elder fraud cases, real estate, construction or home repair scams as well as mortgage fraud, identity theft and forgery.
The unit also prosecutes individuals who write bad checks and who obtain public assistance (i.e. food stamps or subsidized housing) they are not qualified to receive.
White collar crime affects all of us in that it can financially destroy both individuals and businesses. Left unchecked, it also burdens the public with higher insurance premiums, bank fees and the inability to obtain legitimate financing for homes or businesses.
3188 PGA Blvd.
Palm Bch Gardens, FL 33418
Main Number: 561-624-6630
Fax Number: 561-624-6548
200 W. Atlantic Ave., Ste 100
Delray Beach, FL 33444
Main Number: 561-274-1490
Fax Number: 561-274-1498
38844 State Road 80
Belle Glade, FL 33430
Main Number: 561-996-4820
Fax Number: 561-992-1055
3228 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33406
Main Number: 561-688-4640
Fax Number: 561-688-4646