Misdemeanors and Felonies in Florida
When someone is charged with a crime, it will be categorized as a felony or a misdemeanor. Each state has its own laws regarding the two, with different classifications, requirements, and thresholds. What may count as a misdemeanor in one state could earn you a felony conviction in another. A felony is the more serious conviction, and carries far more serious consequences, so the distinctions between them are very important in your defense case.
Felonies in Florida
A felony is a crime that is punishable by more than a year imprisonment in a state prison. In Florida, there are five degrees of felony, each determined by statute.
Degrees of felony:
1. Capital felony (punishable by death or imprisonment for life without parole)
2. Life felony (punishable by 40 years to life imprisonment and a fine up to $15,000)
3. Felony of the first degree (punishable by 30 years or fewer imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000)
4. Felony of the second degree (punishable by 15 years or fewer and a fine up to $10,000)
5. Felony of the third degree (punishable by no more than five years and a fine up to $5,000)
Each degree may also require the defendant to pay restitution to the victim of the crime.
Each degree is so designated based on the maximum amount of time potentially awarded in prison. As such, a capital felony is the most severe in degree, and the others are in descending severity order. The jail time and fine are the most intense for capital felonies, and the defendant may even face the death penalty.
Some examples of felonies include serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter, burglary, arson, kidnapping, assault, or animal cruelty.
Misdemeanors in Florida
A misdemeanor is a crime that is less severe than a felony, and which carries a much lighter sentence and long term effect. In Florida, misdemeanors are classified in the same way as felonies – looking at the potential jail sentence. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by less than a year in a state prison, and the degrees are also determined by statute.
Degrees of misdemeanor:
1. Misdemeanor of the first degree (punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine)
2. Misdemeanor of the second degree (punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment and a $500 fine)
A crime that is considered a misdemeanor (such as battery or aggravated assault) could be turned into a felony depending on extenuating circumstances. For example, if a battery is committed and the person strikes another, causing bodily harm, this may turn it into a felony. This would mean that they are now subject to harsher jail time and increased fines. Additionaly, a misdemeanor can be upfiled to a felony if the person has previoulsy been convicted of the same crime. For example, a DUI or a Battery charge may be filed as a felony if the person has previously been convicted.
Need help defending against a felony or misdemeanor?
If you’ve been charged with a crime, having the right attorney to help you defend yourself is critical. Contact us at Baginski Brandt & Brandt. Our experienced Port St. Lucie criminal attorneys can help you defend against all types of crimes. We understand the nuances of the law, and can help you through this stressful time.