West Palm Beach – A Florida Paradise
When Henry Morrison Flagler first landed in West Palm Beach in 1893, he claimed that he had found a “veritable paradise.” Situated along Florida’s Atlantic coast, West Palm Beach is known for its year-round sunshine, palm-tree lined streets, breathtaking waterfront views, wealthy neighborhoods, and cultural attractions. It has the charm and feel of a small seaside community but has everything that a big city offers — a vibrant downtown, trendy bars and restaurants, high-end shopping districts, live entertainment and more.
West Palm Beach is located west of Palm Beach, south of Palm Beach Gardens and North Palm Beach, southwest of Palm Beach Shores and east of Royal Palm Beach. Together, these cities make up the “Palm Beaches.” According to the most recent census, the estimated population in West Palm Beach is 110, 222. Despite being a relatively mid-size city, it is considered part of the Miami Metropolitan area (68 miles away) which has over 5 million residents.
Downtown West Palm Beach
Downtown West Palm Beach is always buzzing with activity. The heart of downtown is the historic Clematis Street overlooking Lake Worth Lagoon where one can find an array of sidewalk cafes, bars, restaurants, and colorful murals. For even more entertainment, visitors can take a trolley free of charge or rent a SkyBike and venture over to CityPlace – a shopping district and open-air plaza which includes a 20-screen movie theatre with ballpark seating, a musical fountain, and comedy and dance nightclubs.
Further along is Antique Row which features world-class antique stores, specialty shops, and art galleries. Close by is Northwood Village, a quaint area north of downtown which gives off a “bohemian” vibe with edgy art, fine dining and unique shops.
Arts and Culture
Whether it’s museums or art galleries, concerts or festivals, West Palm Beach has it all. Art aficionados can enjoy the Norton Museum of Art (reopens Feb 2019) which houses collections of American, Chinese, European, and contemporary pieces. Visitors can get a sneak peek at what West Palm Beach was like during the Gilded Age by visiting the home of its founder which has now been converted into the Flagler Museum. Another notable historical spot is the Palm Beach Maritime Museum which displays artifacts of the region’s maritime history.
For those who want a fun interactive experience for the whole family, the Aquarium is the place to be. This is South Florida’s largest fresh and the saltwater aquarium featuring over 50 exhibits, a digital planetarium, and a brand new 18-hole mini golf course.
West Palm Beach is also a great place to take in a live performance. The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is a popular venue that presents Broadway shows, ballets, operas, and comedy acts.
Fun in the Sun
Palm Beach County has beaches that stretch 47 miles along the Atlantic Ocean making it one of the top travel destinations in the country. It is an ideal place to engage in water sports like fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, boating, and paddling. The Blue Heron Bridge is one of the best scuba diving sites in the state. Some of the best beaches in the area include:
- Lake Worth Beach
- Palm Beach
- Juno Beach
- Delray Beach
- Boynton Beach Public Beach
- John D. MacArthur State Park
Aside from indulging in the sand and surf, there are numerous other outdoor activities to partake in. Nature lovers will enjoy the Mounts Botanical Garden, an oasis that spans 14 acres and features tropical and subtropical plants from around the world including fruit trees, flowering trees, and shrubs. Also featured on the premises is a vegetable garden, butterfly garden, rose garden and reflection pond. Animal lovers can visit the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society and get close to more than 500 animals including Malayan Tigers, Mexican spider monkeys, jaguars, and more.
Perhaps the most popular outdoor pastime in the area is golfing. Palm Beach County has more than 160 golf courses which residents and visitors equally take advantage of.
West Palm Beach has a busy calendar packed with events throughout the year. In January, huge crowds come to attend the South Florida Fair and indulge in carnival rides, an assortment of foods and live entertainment. In February, baseball lovers get a chance to see the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals during spring training at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. In March, the city hosts the Palm Beach International Boat Show showcasing more than $1.2 billion worth of boats, yachts, and nautical accessories from marine manufacturers all over the world. In May, SunFest takes place – the largest waterfront music and art festival in the state that attracts almost 300,000 visitors a year.
West Palm Beach Criminal Court System
In 2016, the violent crime rate in West Palm Beach rivaled Chicago’s. Fortunately, the crime rate dipped in 2017 by 5. 6 percent according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Robberies, larcenies, burglaries, thefts, and aggravated assaults all dropped. The report also revealed however that murders increased by 20 percent and rapes and motor vehicle thefts also rose.
Arrest and Booking
When there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed in West Palm Beach, the suspect is arrested by law enforcement and booked in the Palm Beach County jail at the Main Detention Center located at 3228 Gun Club Road West Palm Beach, FL 33406-3001. For suspects who live in the western part of the county, they will most likely be booked at the West County Detention Facility in Belle Glade at 38811 James Wheeler Way. If the crime is considered a misdemeanor, the accused may be given the Notice to Appear in court in lieu of a physical arrest.
Once the booking process is complete, the defendant will either be given a scheduled bond or remain in custody for a “First Appearance” in court which takes place within 24 hours after the arrest. Defendants who are booked at the Main Detention Center in West Palm Beach will have their First Appearance at the Gun Club Courtroom. For those booked in Belle Grade, their First Appearance will take place at the West County Courthouse.
At the First Appearance, the judge informs the defendant of the charges against him/her or reason why they were arrested and determines whether there was probable cause to justify the arrest. If probable cause exists, the judge will decide if a pretrial release is appropriate and if bail should be posted and in what amount.
Formal Charges and Arraignment
If the State Attorney’s Office files formal charges an arraignment is scheduled. During an arraignment hearing, the defendant will enter a plea of no contest, guilty or not guilty. If the plea is not guilty, the case will continue and proceed to trial unless a plea bargain is reached. If the case goes to trial, the defendant has the choice of having their case heard by a jury of their peers or a judge.
Criminal Courthouses in Palm Beach County
Depending on where the defendant lives and whether they have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, their case will be heard at one of the following courthouses:
- Main Courthouse, 205 North Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, 561-355-2996
- North County Courthouse, 3488 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410, 561-624-6608
- South County Courthouse, 200 West Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444, 561-274-1530
- West County Courthouse, 3844 S.R. 80, Belle Glade, Fl 33430, 561-996-4843
Hire a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with a crime in West Palm Beach is very serious. If convicted, you could face jail or prison time, fines, probation, and a criminal record. Regardless of the type of crime you’ve been accused of, you are entitled to a vigorous defense.
Hiring a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer is your best bet at getting the charges against you dropped or reduced. Don’t try to navigate the criminal justice system on your own. A skilled attorney has the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively defend your case.