One of the biggest concerns people have when they find themselves charged
with a crime is what sort of sentence are they facing? Can they go to
jail? Prison? What is the maximum a judge can sentence them to.
Miami criminal attorney, and a Broward criminal attorney, I am faced with these questions nearly
everyday. It is completely understandable. Obviously, when you get into
trouble, it's human nature to wonder, "What's the worst that
Here is quick but handy guide on the maximum penalties available under
the law for different sets of crimes. Remember, these are the maximum
penalties. First, second, even third-time offenders rarely get the maximum
sentence and are usually able to obtain a lesser sentence through a plea
bargain. Remember, the job of a criminal defense attorney is to be an
advocate on behalf of his or her client. A great part of that advocacy
is to negotiate with prosecutors for the best possible resolution. As
a former Miami-Dade prosecutor, I dealt with thousands of criminal defense
attorneys who negotiated beautifully on behalf of their clients. The negotiation
skills of a good criminal defense attorney can do wonders for a client's
case. In my experience, prosecutors are willing to accomodate accused
people when their criminal attorneys step in and negotiate properly on
In any event, here are the MAXIMUM penalties under Florida law:
A 2nd Degree
is a crime punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail, 6 months probation,
and a $500 fine. Examples of 2nd Degree misdemeanors are
(when the dollar amount is under $100), Prostitution (first offense),
, and Reckless Driving.
A 1st Degree Misdemeanor is a crime punishable by a maximum of 364 days
in jail, 1 year probation, and a $1,000 fine. Examples of 1st Degree misdemeanors are
Possession of Marijuana
(less than 20 grams), Battery, and Driving While License Suspended (2nd
Misdemeanors, county ordinance violations, DWLS charges (and other criminal
traffic offenses), and
s are all heard in County Court. Miami-Dade County Court can be held at
the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building (main courthouse), or at any
one of Miami-Dade County's Branch Courts. For more information on
the location of the main courthouse or the branch courthouses, check out
www.miami-dadeclerk.com. Additionally, Broward County Court cases are
heard at the judicial complex (main courthouse in Fort Lauderdale) and
at any of the satellite courthouses, located in Hollywood, Plantation,
or Deerfield Beach. Please refer to the Broward County Clerk's website
for more information and driving directions.
All felony offenses are heard at the main courthouses, both in Miami-Dade
A 3rd Degree
is a crime punishable by a maximum of 5 years in state prison. Examples
of 3rd Degree felonies are Possession of Cocaine,
of an Unoccupied Vehicle, and aggravated assault.
A 2nd Degree Felony is a crime punishable by a maximum of 15 years in state
prison. Examples of 2nd Degree felonies are Strongarm Robbery, Aggravated
A 1st Degree Felony is a crime punishable by a maximum of 30 years in state
prison. Examples of 1st Degree felonies are Grand Theft Over $100,000,
Sale of Cocaine Within 1000 Feet of a School, and Trafficking in Cocaine.
A 1st Degree Felony punishable by Life (1st PBL) is a crime punishable
by a maximum of life in prison. An example of a 1st PBL is 2nd Degree Murder.
A Life Felony is a crime punishable by a maximum of life in prison. An
example of a life felony is Armed Robbery with a Firearm, and 1st Degree Murder.
There are also capital crimes which carry the death penalty. In Florida,
a capital offense is a murder with aggravated circumstances (murder was
committed during the course of a felony, murder was carried out in an
atrocious, heinous, and cruel manner, murder was premeditated and calculated).
I do not handle capital murder cases. If you or someone you know is facing
the death penalty, please reference the Florida Bar's website to find
a skilled, experienced, and qualified litigator to handle this delicate matter.
As for all other crimes, whether 2nd degree misdemeanor, or life felony,
I am eager to be your Miami criminal attorney or Broward criminal attorney,
depending on the county of your arrest. Call me today.