What is a Felony? Understanding Florida Law
- On behalf of Mike G Law posted in Criminal Defense on Thursday, February 13, 2020
It’s tough to know the difference between the various degrees and classes of broken laws. We all know that something like murder is wrong and worth a hefty punishment, but how does Florida classify various forms of murder and other crimes?
Instead of breaking down the differences between a type of crime, it’s much easier to understand the state’s approach to felonies and misdemeanors. In this post, we’ll be covering felonies, which crimes fall under this class, and the typical punishment for crimes classified as felonies.
What Classes of Felonies Exist in Florida Law?
In Florida, a few different degrees of felony charges exist.
A third-degree felony is the lowest class of felony permitted under Florida law. Drug possession and vehicular theft may be considered third degree felonies depending on the circumstances.
A second-degree felony is more serious and carries a heavier sentence. Lewd & lascivious behavior and aggravated assault may fall under this class.
First-degree felonies such as aggravated battery can result in long prison terms and hefty fines.
A life felony is extremely serious and may include crimes like aggravated sexual assault.
A capital felony is the most serious charge under Florida law. Murder, armed kidnapping, and capital drug trafficking fall under this class.
There are a variety of factors that go into determining which type of felony an individual may be charged with, such as the severity of the crime, the use of threat or a weapon, whether an individual was harmed, the age of the victim, prior convictions, and more.
What Crimes Constitute a Felony Charge in Florida?
In Florida, felony crimes include:
- Aggravated assault or aggravated battery
- Abuse of a child
- Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer or Firefighter
- Possession of a controlled substance, other than marijuana
- Grand theft
- Resisting an officer with violence
- Sex crimes, including rape
- Drug trafficking
- Carrying a concealed weapon
There’s no textbook way to define each crime as a certain degree. Some are a bit clearer than others. For example, murder can be a first-degree felony in the state of Florida. Depending on the related charges and subsequent events and actions after and before the murder, the crime may get bumped up to a life or capital offense based on the actions taken during the commission of the crime or prior convictions.
What Punishments Exist for Felonies in Florida?
As mentioned, the capital felony charge is the most serious. Capital felonies are punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Life felonies are punishable by life imprisonment and may require life-long probation upon release.
First-degree felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a hefty fine of up to $10,000.
Second-degree felonies also carry a $10,000 fine with up to 15 years in prison for those convicted.
Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
Individuals charged with felonies may also be required to go on probation upon their release.
The Effect of Felony Convictions in Florida
Conviction of a felony continues to haunt a defendant long after they’re done serving time. For starters, many jobs request that you report whether or not you’ve been convicted of a felony. It’ll be hard to find a job where you don’t get judged for this on your record.
Individuals convicted of a felony also lose the right to vote as well as the ability to obtain a firearm. Loans are also difficult to obtain when you have a felony charge on your record.
A felony conviction is no joke and requires a rigorous legal defense.
What Do You Do if Charged with a Felony Crime?
The key to a felony charge is timeliness. Prosecutors aim to charge suspects as quickly as possible, especially for felony charges. The important thing to remember is that you are innocent until proven guilty. If you don’t have someone on your side who knows the letter of the law and your rights, then it’s going to be hard to fight the case. If charged with a felony, find representation immediately—there’s no time to waste.
In almost every situation, lawyers for the prosecution will reach out to you to attempt to meet. In this meeting, they’ll likely offer you a plea deal. When this occurs, it’s hard to keep up with the quick thinking and deceptive logic of a prosecutor. While there are certainly cases where it is in your best interest to accept a plea deal, it’s important to have someone on your side to protect your rights and to help you negotiate. Otherwise, you could get steamrolled by an over-eager prosecutor looking to make a name for himself.
Let Mike G Help You Fight a Felony Charge in Florida
Mike G helps clients in the greater Tampa area, including Hillsborough, Hernando, Pinellas, and Pasco. If you’ve been charged with a felony crime or if you’re being investigated from a crime, it’s crucial that you get Mike G on your side as soon as possible. Felonies are no joke, and prosecutors seek swift conviction and punishment in these sorts of cases. Seek representation as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a lawyer, the prosecutors will attempt to get you to take a plea for a lesser punishment. No matter the situation, you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re protected by a lawyer who can uphold your rights and fight for your freedom.
As a former sex crimes prosecutor, Mike G has a wealth of experience when it comes to serious offenses and allegations. He’s seen what prosecutors will do to make their case and knows how to protect his clients from an overreaching legal system intent on a high conviction rate. He’s also seen how law enforcement will use a lewd and lascivious charge inappropriately in order to appease parents or punish alleged perpetrators. Don’t let this happen to you—call Mike G today