In the State of Florida, crimes can be divided into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. A misdemeanor is a less serious offense, only punishable by county jail time at the most. A felony is a serious crime, punishable by state prison time. A felony conviction (adjudication) will have a detrimental impact on your life. You may be denied employment, housing, student loans, as well as the right to vote.
You will also be unable to own or possess firearms. If you are a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, you will face fifteen years in prison with a three-year mandatory minimum term.
Felonies can be broken down by degree. A third-degree felony is a less serious offense but nevertheless a felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
Some examples of third-degree felonies are grand theft, burglary of a conveyance, and aggravated assault. Even third-degree felonies can have mandatory sentences, such as the three-year mandatory minimum for aggravated assault with a firearm.
If you are designated a habitual offender (HO), habitual violent offender (HVO), or prison releasee reoffender (PRRP), you may face more time, as well as mandatory minimum terms.
Second-degree felonies carry a maximum of fifteen years, such as aggravated battery and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. First-degree felonies such as trafficking in oxycodone carry a maximum of thirty years. As is the case with all trafficking offenses, mandatory terms apply.
First-degree felonies punishable by life and life felonies carry a maximum of life in prison, such as armed burglary and second-degree murder. Capital felonies, such as first-degree murder, carry the death penalty. Good representation is important when charged with a felony.
Your South Florida criminal defense attorney should do everything to prevent you from serving prison time and becoming a convicted felon. If you have no prior record, this may be easier than if you have prior felonies. If not, you may want to take your case to trial.