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Differences Between Misdemeanors and Felonies in Florida

Criminal offenses are typically classified as misdemeanors and felonies. A misdemeanor is a relatively minor offense that carries lighter penalties. Felony offenses are more serious and come with significant penalties, including jail time. A criminal defense lawyer can help you fight a felony charge and avoid the lifelong consequences of being convicted.

It is important to understand how the two types of offenses vary under Florida laws. Here is a look at their key differences and penalties.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a type of criminal offense that is more serious than a simple infraction but less serious than a felony. It is typically a non-violent crime that involves deliberate lawbreaking. Some examples of misdemeanor offenses as per Florida laws include driving under the influence (DUI), shoplifting, domestic violence, petty theft, and vandalism.

Florida Statutes Chapter 775 classifies misdemeanor offenses into two categories: First Degree misdemeanors and Second Degree misdemeanors. First Degree offenses are more serious and carry harsher penalties, whereas Second Degree misdemeanors are less serious offenses with milder punishments.

Florida Penalties for Misdemeanors

The penalties for First Degree misdemeanors include a $1,000 fine, probation of up to 12 months, and jail time of up to one year. You face one or more of these penalties if charged with a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

For a Second Degree offense, penalties include a fine of $500, probation of up to six months, and jail time of up to 60 days. Again, one or more of these penalties may apply to your case.

What Is a Felony?

A felony is a serious crime that often involves violence. Common examples of a felony offense include grand theft, kidnapping, carjacking, rape, assault, battery, murder, and arson. Non-violence crimes such as identity theft can also result in felony charges.

Florida laws have five separate categories for felony offenses:

  • Capital felony
  • Life felony
  • First degree felony
  • Second degree felony
  • Third degree felony

Florida Penalties for Felony Offenses

The penalties for a felony offense depend on what type of felony you have been charged with. Here is a look at the penalties for each category:

  • Capital Felony – A capital felony charge can result in a death sentence or life imprisonment. You may also be required to pay restitution to the victim.
  • Life Felony – If you are charged with a life felony, you face a minimum of 40 years in state prison, up to life imprisonment. You may also be required to pay a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Felony First Degree – A first-degree felony carries a prison sentence of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Felony Second Degree – For a felony second-degree charge you face a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Felony Third Degree – A third-degree felony charge carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?

If you have been charged with a felony offense in Tampa, Florida, you must get legal help immediately. Here at Hersem Law, our lawyers help you build a robust defense and fight the criminal charges brought against you. We work with you to make sure you make legal choices that secure your rights and interests.

Call us today at 813-251-7291 to discuss your case with our lawyers. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free strategy session.