The Differences Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

Friday, August 25, 2017

 The Differences Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

Not all criminal charges are the same. Offenses are charged according to the harm they inflict on others and in some cases, the circumstances of an individual case and the defendant’s previous criminal record. In Florida and most other states, criminal offenses are classified into two broad categories: felonies and misdemeanors.

The court processes for felonies and misdemeanors differs slightly, but both require that the defendant be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict him or her. Individuals facing criminal charges are advised, but not required, to work with criminal defense attorneys to reduce their chances of being found guilty.

Misdemeanors are Less Serious Offenses and Punished Appropriately

Misdemeanors are generally offenses that do not result in substantial losses or physical harm to victims. Certain violent crimes are charged as misdemeanors, though.

Examples of misdemeanors in Florida include:

  • Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana;

  • Vandalism;

  • Shoplifting;

  • Certain instances of driving under the influence (DUI); and

  • Disorderly conduct.

Misdemeanors are further divided into first and second degree offenses. For a first degree misdemeanor conviction, the defendant faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For a second degree misdemeanor conviction, the penalties are up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Felonies are Serious Offenses that Require Additional Court Processes

Felonies are serious offenses that cause victims to suffer severe losses. When an individual is accused of a felony, a preliminary hearing is held to determine his or her charges before moving on to a jury trial.

Examples of felonies in Florida include:

  • Murder;

  • Violently resisting arrest;

  • Cocaine possession;

  • Rape; and

  • Robbery.

Felonies are classified into five categories: first, second, and third degree felonies, life felonies, and capital felonies.

Examples of third degree felonies include burglary and a third or subsequent DUI. The penalties for this conviction are a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

Examples of second degree felonies include sexual battery and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it. Penalties for this level charge include up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,00.

First degree felony charges include carjacking, human trafficking, and robbery with a weapon. The penalties an individual faces for this charge include a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 30 years imprisonment.

Life felonies are offenses punishable by 40 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Examples of these offenses include kidnapping and unpremeditated murder.

Capital felonies are offenses for which a defendant faces the death penalty. Individuals facing these charges can also face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Capital felonies include armed kidnapping and murder.

Draper Law Office Represents Clients Facing All Levels of Criminal Charge

Contact Draper Law Office today by visiting our website or calling our office at (866) 767-4711 to schedule your free, no-obligation legal consultation in one of our three convenient locations: St. Cloud, Orlando, and Kissimmee. When you are facing a criminal charge, you need to be proactive and start working with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to give your case the best possible chance of resulting in a lowered or dropped charge.


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