When you are charged with a crime in Florida, it is typically categorized as either a felony or a misdemeanor. There is a substantial difference between both these types of criminal cases.
A felony offense is considered more serious than a misdemeanor offense, often associated with more severe and extensive legal consequences. The decision to prosecute a crime as a felony or misdemeanor is determined by the Florida District Attorneys. Both felonies and misdemeanors can appear as a permanent mark on your criminal record, negatively affecting your employment, educational, and housing opportunities.
A felony is the most serious type of criminal offense a person can commit. Felony crimes are typically punishable by more than one year in prison, lifetime imprisonment, and even by death. These crimes often involve physical bodily harm of another individual, sexually explicit actions, or large sums of money.
Common felony crimes include, but are not limited to, the following:
Third-degree felonies are punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years, five years’ probation, and a fine of up to $5,000. Second-degree felonies are punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, 15 years’ probation, and a fine of up to $10,000. First-degree felonies result in a maximum prison sentence of 30 years, 30 years’ probation, and a fine of up to $10,000. Life felonies result in a lifetime prison sentence, without the possibility of parole, lifetime probation, and a fine of up to $15,000. Capital felonies are punishable by death or life in prison without parole.
Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are less serious than felony crimes. This type of crime is typically punishable by a jail sentence, as opposed to prison time. Misdemeanors do not involve serious bodily harm to another individual and large sums of money.
Common misdemeanor crimes include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Drunk driving
- Traffic violations
- Indecent exposure
- Disorderly conduct
Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 60 days and a $500 fine. First-degree misdemeanors result in a maximum jail sentence of one year and a $1,000 fine.