Charged with a Crime in Florida?
Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Florida criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Florida?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. Florida classifies both misdemeanors and felonies as either of the First Degree or of the Second degree.
- Misdemeanors of the First Degree are the most serious misdemeanors in Florida, punishable by jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to $1,000. Theft of property valued at $100 or more, but less than $300, is an example of a misdemeanor of the first degree.
- Misdemeanors of the Second Degree are the least serious misdemeanors in Florida, and a conviction can result in a jail term of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. If lawmakers fail to classify a misdemeanor, then it is punishable as a misdemeanor of the second degree. For example, smoking in an elevator and prostitution are both regarded as misdemeanors of the second degree.
Additional common misdemeanors include such offenses as disorderly intoxication, battery, and trespassing.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Florida?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In Florida, felony charges are also classified as either of the First Degree or of the Second Degree, as well as a Third Degree class and other more specific degrees. Those are:
- Capital Felony, which is restricted to murder cases.
- Life Felony, applying to crimes such as engaging in continuing criminal enterprise.
- Felony in the First Degree, applying to crimes such as DUI Manslaughter/Leaving the Scene (“hit and runs”).
- Felony in the Second Degree, applying to crimes such as DUI manslaughter.
- Felony in the Third Degree, applying to crimes such as commercial bribery.
Need a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Florida criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.