Belkis Plata was born in the Bronx, New York to a Puerto Rican father and Colombian mother. Belkis is fluent in Spanish. Belkis attended Paxon School for Advanced Studies and Mandarin High school in Jacksonville, Florida. Belkis went on and graduated cum laude from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology in 2007. During undergrad Belkis worked as an intern for the U.S. Marshals and the Guardian ad Litem Program. In the summer of 2008, Belkis, worked as a legal intern at Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. The following year she worked in Atlanta at the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in the gang unit. Belkis received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2010. While at UF Law, Belkis, worked for the Center of Race and Race Relations, the Reichert House Youth Academy and was a member of GatorTeam Child Juvenile Law Clinic.
Belkis is no stranger to public service, she began her legal career as a trial attorney at the Public Defender’s Office in Jacksonville, Florida where she worked for nearly four years. Belkis began her career in Juvenile Court where she represented hundreds of children charged with both misdemeanors and felonies. Belkis was later assigned to Felony Court and thereafter was promoted to Major Crimes Attorney. During her time at the Public Defender’s Office Belkis defended thousands of individuals charged with various crimes from petit theft to attempted murder. While at the Public Defender’s Office Belkis was nominated as 2011 Employee of the Year, 2012 Trial Lawyer of the Year, and 2013-2014 Trial Team of the Year.
In 2015, Belkis was honored at the State Capitol and named Alumni of the Year by Take Stock in Children. In 2016, Belkis was presented with the annual Excellence in Mentoring Awards by the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) at the Library of Congress in D.C. In 2017, Belkis became Board Certified in the Area of Juvenile Law. In 2018, Belkis was recognized by the Florida Bar for her pro bono service. Various members of the legal community and her clients describe Belkis as someone who exhibits professionalism, courtesy, diplomacy, punctuality, firmness, compassion, humility, patience, selfless and common sense.
Belkis is a member of the Florida Bar and is licensed to practice law in all Florida State Courts and in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. She is a member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Florida Bar Association, Jacksonville Bar Association and the Humans Rights Coalition.
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