What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony in Florida?
When you’re charged with a crime, it will be categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The difference between these two classifications is great, as they can have very different legal consequences. A felony offense is more serious than a misdemeanor, and a conviction can involve more serious and lengthier sentences and longer-lasting consequences. Both a misdemeanor and a felony can appear on your criminal record, which can impact your education, career, housing options, and more. Retaining a skilled West Palm Beach criminal attorney is important if you’ve been charged with a crime. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal or fight to have the charges reduced in some scenarios, which can make a huge impact on your future.
A misdemeanor is the less serious offense classification of the two and involves a crime that is punishable by less than a year in prison. Some misdemeanors may result in probation, community service, monetary fines, restitution, and/or counseling. Common misdemeanors include:
- Petty theft
- Possession of Marijuana
- Domestic Battery
A felony is a more serious type of crime, and therefore carries the more severe penalties. It is a crime that carries a sentence of more than a year in prison. Common felonies include:
- Sexual abuse
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
A felony conviction can also result in civil rights restrictions. A convicted felon cannot serve on a jury, vote in some jurisdictions, nor can you possess or own firearms. In addition, a felony conviction can keep you from practicing some professions.
Florida breaks felonies into different degrees:
- Third-degree felony: This is punishable by up to five years in prison. A third-degree felony might be possession of a controlled substance, burglary of a structure or conveyance, grand theft, or driving with a suspended license and two prior convictions.
- Second degree felony: This is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Examples of second-degree felonies include sale of a controlled substance, DUI with serious bodily injury or DUI manslaughter, aggravated battery, or burglary of a dwelling.
- First degree felony: This is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. First degree felonies can include robbery with a firearm, sexual battery with a weapon, trafficking controlled substances.
- Life Felony: This is punishable by up to Life in prison. Life felonies include child sexual abuse, charges involving firearms, kidnapping, and murder.
- Capital Felony: This is punishable by either a mandatory life sentence or the death penalty. Capital felonies include capital sexual battery and first degree murder.
Drunk driving may often be classified as a misdemeanor, but it can also be a felony in certain circumstances. For example, if you are driving drunk and kill someone, or if you have two prior DUIs, you may be charged with felony DUI. Any DUI that involves serious bodily injury is considered a third-degree felony and can be punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or up to five years in prison. If you are on your third DUI within ten years or your fourth or subsequent DUI, it is also a third-degree felony. If your DUI results in a death, the felony is a second degree felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Retaining a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, it’s imperative you speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney right away. At Scott Berry Law in Florida, our primary focus is defending people accused of a crime. Contact our office at 561-370-7420 to schedule a consultation.