What is a Felony in the State of Florida?
Every state has its own laws and definitions when it comes to categories of crimes. Each of these states lists felonies among the most serious crimes that you can commit.
The Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony
Misdemeanors are any crime for which the maximum sentence is one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. The Misdemeanor crimes are usually considered to be less serious than felony crimes. Felonies, on the other hand, are punishable up to Life in Prison and potentially a death sentence. Typically, felonies are classified by Degrees (explained below) which will determine the severity of the offense and the potential consequences.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction in Florida
Those convicted of felonies can serve sentences up to life and may even face a death sentence. Felonies are classified depending on their severity. In order of least severe to most severe:
- Third-degree felonies – Punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. If no degree for a felony is stated, the default felony is a third-degree felony.
- Second-degree felonies – Punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
- First-degree felonies – Punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
- Life felonies – Punishable by up to life in prison without the possibility of parole and a $15,000 fine.
- Capital felonies – Punishable by death.
Consequences of Felonies Other Than Fines or Prison
Those convicted of felony offenses face consequences above and beyond prison and fines. Background checks will easily spot those who have been convicted of felonies and they may find it difficult to get a professional license, sustain employment, find housing, or obtain a student loan. Those convicted of felonies in Florida are not allowed to vote or own a firearm.
How Felonies are Prosecuted in Florida
Every felony in Florida is assigned a numerical value that determines the gravity of the crime. The greater the number of points, the higher the crime ranks, which means it is punishable by more time in prison. Those who score higher than 44 points are required to serve mandatory prison terms (absent just cause to reduce the sentence). Those who score less than 44 points are not required by statute to serve prison time, but that decision is still completely at the discretion of the judge.
How an Orlando Felony Defense Attorney Can Help
Each case is different, but the way the case proceeds through the criminal justice system remains the same. Prosecutors are still required to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt and they still require evidence to prove those charges. The evidence cannot be ambiguous or vague.
In many cases, defendants are overcharged for their crimes in the hopes that a prosecutor can negotiate a plea deal for a lesser offense. This gives the appearance that you are being cut a deal when, in fact, you are not. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can determine if the crime you are being charged with would stick before a jury.
An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the collateral consequences and long term implications for a criminal felony charge. The final resolution may affect a persons eligibility for either an expungement or sealing of the criminal record. A criminal sentence may be resolved by an Adjudication of Guilt or a Withhold of Adjudication. In some cases, a withhold of adjudication may qualify to be sealed. Having an experienced criminal attorney can help defend and navigate your case to the best resolution.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth to learn more about how we can help.
Florida Statute 775.082 – Criminal Penalties