Misdemeanors & Felonies
If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge in the state of Florida, you need to hire a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney to protect your rights in court. He or she can help you to beat the charge or get reduced penalties. The goal is always to get you the best possible outcome, so you can go back to living your life as quickly as possible.
So what’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor charge? One of the key differences is the penalties and sanctions you face if convicted. Felonies carry stiffer penalties than misdemeanors, which means higher fines, longer prison or jail sentences, and longer probation periods. The other main difference is your ability to reintegrate back into society after you’ve completed those penalties. As a felon, the conviction remains on your permanent record, you lose your right to vote, and you will have to explain the felony conviction to potential future employers. Misdemeanors usually do not carry these long-term consequences.
A Misdemeanor Crime in Florida
This is a criminal offense that is punishable by less than a year of jail time. You can also receive up to one year of probation and up to $1000 in fines. Misdemeanor charges are generally handled by the County Court level.
Here are a few examples of misdemeanor charges:
- Domestic Violence Battery
- Disorderly Conduct
- Driving on a Suspended License
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Loitering and Prowling
- Marijuana Possession
- Petty Theft
- First Offense Prostitution
- Resisting an Officer without Violence
Since the consequences aren’t as severe as a felony charge, many people make the mistake of not hiring an Orlando criminal defense lawyer. But a misdemeanor will go on your criminal record. It is not guaranteed that it can be expunged, or removed, at a later time, and it will be a process to do so. Also, if you accept a sentence of probation, you should know that you face jail time if you fail to meet any of the requirements, even if it’s just not paying a fee. Also, if you hire the right Orlando criminal defense lawyer, it may be possible to have the case dismissed, and isn’t that preferable? Even if you don’t think that’s possible, an Orlando criminal defense attorney may be able to help you receive a Withhold of Adjudication instead of a conviction of guilty.
A Felony Crime in Florida
Felony cases are handled by circuit court judges, and the punishment for conviction of a felony can lead to more than a year in prison. Generally, the most experienced prosecutors are sent to handle felony cases, so it is even more important to make sure that you have a qualified Florida criminal defense attorney on your side.
Here are a few examples of felony charges:
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
- Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer
- Child Abuse
- Drug Possession (Except Marijuana)
- Felony Battery
- Grand Theft
- Resisting Officer with Violence
- Sexual Battery (Rape)
- Lewd and Lascivious Battery
- Lewd and Lascivious Molestation
There are different degrees of felonies which have associated possible penalties.
Third Degree Felony
- Up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a $5,000 fine
Second Degree Felony
- Up to fifteen years in prison, fifteen years probation, and a $10,000 fine
- First Degree Felony
- Up to thirty years in prison, thirty years probation, and a $10,000 fine
- Life Felony
- Life in prison without the possibility of parole, or probation for the remainder of your life, and a $15,000 fine
- Capital Felony
- Death or life in prison without the possibility of parole
Additionally, you will face a loss of civil rights. You will be ineligible to obtain State Licenses, hold public office, or receive federal or state aid. You will have a harder time getting hired since the conviction will be on your record, and it can also affect your ability to rent. In some cases, you may be able to get the conviction expunged from your record, but it will depend on a number of factors, including how your case was handled in the first place.
Misdemeanors and felonies both can carry significant sanctions. Seek knowledgeable legal assistance soon after your arrest to afford your lawyer a greater opportunity to steer the direction of your case:
- Evaluate legal defenses available
- Discuss your legal rights and consider the admissibility of the evidence
- Minimize damage to your criminal record
- Minimize exposure to jail time
Contact an Orlando, Kissimmee, or Longwood, Florida criminal defense lawyer to get help as soon as possible.