Misdemeanors and felonies differ in their sentencing and procedural guidelines. Most people believe a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, but that is a misconception. Any criminal charge is serious, but we will look more closely at how Florida law classifies and penalizes misdemeanors and felonies below.
Misdemeanor of the first and second degree
The state divides misdemeanors into first- and second-degree classifications. First degree misdemeanors are supposedly more serious than second degree misdemeanors.
- First-degree misdemeanors: These include animal cruelty, simple or aggravated battery and possession of drugs. The defendant can face up to one year imprisonment or 12 months in probation in a county or city jail. The fine is $1,000.
- Second-degree misdemeanors: These include simple assault, driving with a license suspension and petty theft. The defendant can face a maximum of 60 days in prison or 6 months in probation in a county or city jail. The fine is $500.
Misdemeanor charges should not be taken lightly. They can become a felony if there are complications, including allegations of resisting arrest.
There are a total of five different classifications of felonies. They are listed below from least to most severe.
- Felony of the third degree: These include aggravated assault, cocaine possession, theft or burglary, forgery and a repeated DUI. It is punishable by up to 5 years in state prison with a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Felony of the second degree: These include possessing drugs with intent to sell, DUI manslaughter, aggravated battery using a weapon, sexual assault and child abuse. It is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison with a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Felony of the first degree: These include hit-and-run manslaughter, drug trafficking, violent robbery, human trafficking, aggravated child abuse. It is punishable by up to 30 years in state prison with a maximum fine of also $10,000.
- Life felony: These include kidnapping, molesting a minor under 12 years of age and even being an accomplice to murder. A defendant can face life felony charges if they have had multiple first-degree felony convictions prior to the current one. It is punishable by up to 40 years in state prison with a maximum fine of $15,000.
- Capital felony: These include murder, sexual battery, drug trafficking, armed kidnapping. It is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment in state prison. Any felony that involves death or a sex crime can develop into a capital felony.
The lines between the classifications of misdemeanors and felonies can be a little blurry, but the seriousness of these charges is relative to you. Defending your name is extremely important and you have to find the right help.