The state criminal justice system is complex. If you are arrested on charges in Florida, they will either be felonies or misdemeanors. Felonies are more severe and typically come with significant penalties and consequences if you are found guilty.
What is a Felony in Florida?
There are specific Florida felony laws that detail what is considered a felony in the state, including a breakdown of the degrees of the crime and potential penalties.
Florida Felony Laws
Florida felony laws recognize certain unlawful acts as serious crimes. These can come with penalties of life in prison, high fines, and even the death penalty. The circumstances of the individual case will determine the felony charges in Florida.
Felonies in Florida include five classifications:
- first-degree felony,
- second-degree felony, and
- third-degree felony.
Degrees of Felonies in Florida
The question, “What is a felony in Florida?” has many answers. One of the most important things to know is the degrees of felonies. The degree will determine the types of penalties an individual could face if convicted. The higher the degree – the more severe the penalties.
Capital Felonies — An example of a capital felony is first-degree murder.
Life Felonies — These can include crimes such as aggravated sexual assault.
First-degree Felonies — An example of a first-degree felony is aggravated assault of a police officer while that officer is on duty, which is the most severe degree after capital and life felonies.
These top three are related to profoundly serious crimes. Second and third-degree felonies are serious as well, and all require legal representation from a criminal defense attorney.
What is a second-degree felony in Florida?
Second-degree Felonies — A drug offense such as selling marijuana to a minor would be an example of a second-degree felony in Florida.
What is a 3rd-degree felony in Florida?
Third-degree Felonies —Examples of third-degree felonies in Florida include grand theft, felony battery, and a third-time DUI, which took place within ten years of a prior DUI conviction.
Types of Crimes that Constitute a Felony Charge
There are multiple types of crimes that constitute a felony charge in Florida, such as:
- Rape and other sex crimes
- Aggravated Battery & Aggravated Assault
- Child Abuse
- Domestic Violence
- Grand theft
- Battery on a law enforcement officer or firefighter
- Resisting a law enforcement officer using violence
- Possession of a controlled substance (not including marijuana under 20 grams)
- Drug trafficking
- Carrying a concealed firearm
Individuals charged with crimes, whether a felony or a misdemeanor, have the right to an attorney and are highly advised to seek legal counsel.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor: What’s the Difference?
Misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes by the criminal justice system in Florida, typically associated with reduced penalties, including lesser fines and jail time.
Like felonies, misdemeanors have classifications: first-degree and second-degree.
First-degree Misdemeanors — punishable by up to one year in jail and/or up to 12 months of probation and a fine up to $1,000.
Second-degree Misdemeanors — punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or up to six months of probation and up to a $500 fine.
Misdemeanors, such as a DUI, can also come with vehicle impoundment, DUI school, ignition interlock device, and driver’s license suspension, among other penalties.
Examples of misdemeanors in Florida include DUI, driving with a suspended license, battery, possession of drug paraphernalia, vandalism, and shoplifting.
Penalties for Felonies in Florida
If you are facing felony charges in Florida, you could be subject to various penalties, depending on the degree and circumstances.
Capital and life felonies are the most serious crimes in the state.
Capital Felonies — punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Life Felonies — punishable by life in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
First-degree Felonies — punishable by up to thirty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Second-degree Felonies — punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Third-degree Felonies — punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Both felony and misdemeanor penalties can also include probation.
Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations, the period of time allowed for the state to begin prosecution of a case, starts when the crime is committed. This period will differ depending upon the severity of the felony charges in Florida.
Capital and Life Felonies & Felonies that resulted in death — no statute of limitations
First-degree Felonies — standardly have a four-year statute of limitations
Other Felonies — typically have a three-year statute of limitations
Consequences of a Felony Arrest
There can be a variety of consequences associated with a felony arrest, producing a major impact on your life not only for the immediate future but for a very long time — potentially for the rest of your life.
If you are convicted, this includes prison, hefty fines, and probation, as listed above. But there are also many other consequences of a felony arrest that can occur. It can be challenging to obtain a student loan for education, get a job, or obtain a professional license — placing your ability to make a living and your financial future in jeopardy.
A felony arrest can also impact your living conditions, making it difficult to rent or buy a home. Additionally, you may be prevented from voting or owning a gun.
The consequences of a felony arrest can be far-reaching in your personal and professional life and can severely impact your quality of life for many, many years.
What to Do If Facing Felony Charges in Florida
If you face felony charges in Florida, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Due to the severity of the potential penalties and consequences associated with these types of charges, having a lawyer on your side is critical to getting the best outcome possible in your case.
Dean Tsourakis is dedicated to justice and has helped thousands of individuals throughout his career. You should not face felony charges on your own.
It is important to get representation quickly. Take action to make sure you have the right Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney.
Contact the law office of Dean Tsourakis today at 727-785-2700 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.on Jan 10, 2022