If you are facing charges for a felony offense or have recently been released from a long sentence, you probably have a lot of questions about the impact a felony charge can have on your life and future.
More than 70 million Americans have a criminal record, so you are not alone. But a felony—which refers to a crime that carries a sentence of a year or more—can impact where you can live, where you can work, and every other aspect of your life.
If you have recently served time, the most important thing for you to do now is learn how those charges will affect you going forward. If you are currently facing charges, make sure you have an experienced legal team on your side to help you get the best possible outcome.
What Is a Felony?
There are three levels of criminal charges with felonies being the most severe type. Misdemeanors and felonies are also classified by degree, which can make an impact on the legal consequences you may face, such as fines or jail time.
The first type of criminal charge is an infraction. Infractions are the least severe type of criminal violation. The most common types are simple traffic violations like failing to use a turn signal or running a red light. Anyone who receives an infraction usually has to do nothing more than pay a fine.
Because there is no jury trial, defendants charged with infractions do not have the right to a court-appointed lawyer.
The next kind of charge is a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanors may be punishable by up to a year (but no longer) in county jail. In some cases, a judge may require the defendant to do community service or attend classes instead of serve time behind bars.
There are first-degree and second-degree misdemeanors, and the severity of the punishment varies with each crime. Some common misdemeanors include petty theft, driving while intoxicated, and possessing an unregistered firearm.
It is also important to note that the first time a person commits a minor crime, it will be a misdemeanor. However, if a person commits the same crime twice, it can become a felony charge.
It is possible to have a misdemeanor expunged from your record or get felonies charges dropped down to misdemeanors before a case ends. Contact Mike G Law for a free consultation to learn if your case may be classified as a misdemeanor.
Felonies are the most severe kinds of crimes. Examples of felonies include:
- Child abuse
- Battery on a law enforcement officer or firefighter
- Grand theft
- Home invasion
- Drug trafficking
These activities all have different classifications. In Florida, felonies fall into four categories. These are capital and life felonies, first-, second-, and third-degree felonies.
- Capital and life felonies are the most severe crimes in Florida and are punishable by the death penalty or life in prison with no possibility of parole and a fine of up to $15,000. Examples of capital felonies are first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm, or sexual battery.
- First-degree felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of first-degree felonies include aggravated child abuse, drug trafficking, or burglary with an assault or battery.
- Second-degree felonies can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of no more than $10,000. Examples of this kind of this charge include aggravated battery, DUI manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a death.
- Third-degree felonies are the least severe type of felonies in Florida and are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000. Examples of third-degree felony charges include theft of an automobile, a DUI with serious bodily injury, and possession of marijuana with the intent to sell.
If you have more than one felony conviction, then your jail sentence can be longer.
How long does a felony stay on your record?
Unfortunately, in Florida, a felony will stay on your record for life, and we understand how this can affect your overall quality of life. Having a felony on your record can make simple things like travel, finding a decent place to live, or getting a job very difficult.
However, if you have a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to aid you, you have a better chance of reducing your sentence or getting charges reduced. No outcome is guaranteed, but a defense attorney like Mike G can ensure you get a fair trial.
Expunging or Sealing a Felony Record
In Florida, you may have your record sealed or expunged if you were arrested for a felony charge, but not ultimately convicted.
- A sealed record means that the public cannot view the charge on your record, but most government agencies will still have access. It means private employers cannot view your felony charge, making it easier to pass a background check.
- If you have your record expunged, it means that no one, not even a government agency, can see your criminal record without a court order. It also means that you are not required to tell anyone about the arrest in most cases.
However, you cannot qualify for having your charge expunged or sealed if you have been convicted for another crime, even if the verdict did not find you to be guilty.
The rules around sealing and expungement are complicated. They often require an experienced lawyer to help conduct research to determine eligibility for sealing or expungement. At Mike G Law, we can help figure out if your record may be sealed or expunged.
Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florida
If you are worried about a felony’s long-term impact on your life, an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney may be able to help.
Contact the team at Mike G Law if you have been arrested for felony charges. During our free initial consultation, we will discuss the facts of your case and help create a plan of action to get you the best possible outcome.