Misdemeanor vs. Felony:
In Florida, criminal charges are categorized into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors can be 2nd degree or 1st degree. Felonies can be 3rd degree, 2nd degree, 1st degree, Life or Capital. A misdemeanor could result in jail time, whereas, a felony could result in jail, prison or death. Jail is for sentences less than 365 days and prison is for sentences greater than 365 days.
How it works:
Felonies are heard in Circuit. In Hillsborough County, we have seven Felony divisions A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I. There are also Circuit Courts specifically for violations of probation, drug offenses, juvenile offenses, and other serious offenses going to jury trial.
In Circuit Court, defendants are randomly assigned to different divisions. Every felony offense requires a scoresheet, which determines if prison is mandatory; and if so, the length of the prison sentence. Other statutes create enhancements for repeat offenders, prison release re-offenders, gun crimes, crimes involving children, etc... A felony Judge must sentence at or above the sentencing guidelines, unless he has just cause to depart. Once a Felony case is filed against a Defendant, plea deals can still be worked out with the prosecutor, but, the Judge must also approve. Plea deals can also be worked out with the Judge, even over the objection of the State Attorney. The State Attorney however, is the only one who can amend the charges. Hiring an experienced local defense attorney can give you insight into your specific Judge and division.
3rd Degree Felonies are punishable by a maximum of
5 years in prison and probation
Each crimes is classified by statute. If legislators do not classify a felony specifically, it will be considered a 3rd degree felony.
Fla. Stat. 775.081, 775.082, 775.083
2nd Degree Felonies are punishable by a maximum of
15 years prison and probation
Fla. Stat. 775.082, 775.083
1st degree Felonies are punishable by a maximum of
30 years prison and probation
Fla. Stat. 775.082, 775.083
Capital and Life Felonies:
Life - Death Penalty
Fla. Stat. 775.082, 775.083
Probation, Jail, and Violation of Probation:
It is important to realize that violating a 60 month probation sentence, even on the last day, could result in a full 5 year prison sentence. A sentence could also be split into a prison sentence followed by a probation sentence. If this happens, a violation of the probation could result in completing the rest of the maximum sentence in prison.
Consecutive vs. Concurrent sentences:
Its important to note that each charge carries its own punishment. A Judge could run sentences concurrently or consecutively. For example, if convicted of both possession of cocaine and possession of heroin (both 3rd degree felonies), a Judge could sentence the defendant to the maximum 5 years prison for each charge. The Judge could run the sentences consecutively (one right after the other) resulting in a 5 years prison sentence followed by another 5 years prison sentence, because both are punishable by 5 years individually. Alternatively, a Judge could run the sentences concurrently (at the same time) resulting in both sentences being served during the same 5 years.
Statute of Limitations:
See Fla. Statutes 775.15 The state has to charge you within a certain amount of time from the time a crime is committed, except for very serious crimes, such as murder. Depending on the crime, there is a one to five year applicable statute of limitations. For example:
Non criminal and Second Degree Misdemeanors - 1 year
First Degree Misdemeanors – 2 years
Many Felonies – 3 years
First Degree Felonies – 4 years
First degree Felonies for abuse, Securities Violations, and Environmental violations – 5 years
Breach of Fiduciary or Fraud – 3 years
Misconduct while in public office – 2-5 years
Life and Death Penalty cases have no limit.
A statute of limitations can be extended for not more than 3 years if the defendant is absent from the state, continuously, and does not have an identifiable place of work or residence within the State. Statutes of Limitation often begin at the age of 16 if the offense involves a minor.
Felonies are very serious criminal charges that can affect not just your liberty, but also your future. Violent felonies, sex offenses, offenses involving children, and other more serious felonies can qualify an accused as Habitual Felony Offenders, Prison Release Re-offenders, Violent Felony Offenders, 10-20-Life Offenders, GORT Offenders, and more. McCulloch Law has the experience with these more serious crimes and can provide you with the defense you need. Always evaluate an attorney's experience and qualifications before making a hiring decision.
How McCulloch Law, P.A. can help YOU:
McCulloch Law, P.A. has years of experience in handling almost every level of felony charge. As a former prosecutor, Drew McCulloch prosecuted thousands of Felony cases. By hiring McCulloch Law at the earliest stages of your case, our office may be able to minimize or possibly avoid certain aspects of your charges and sanctions. In appropriate cases, we may be able to negotiate for a “diversion program”, which, if successfully completed, could result in dismissal of your case. In some cases, we may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor and convince the state attorney to file less serious charges or no charges at all. In other cases, we may be able to argue for or provide mitigation for a better deal, such as drug rehab over jail or lesser included offenses.
McCuloch Law will always try to avoid an adjudication of guilt, if at all possible. An “adjudication of guilt” as opposed to a “withhold of adjudication of guilt” could make the difference between having to admit you were convicted of a criminal offense on a job application and being able to deny it. It may also make the difference between keeping or obtain employment or being able to drive. Teachers, nurses, fiduciaries, county and city employees, even real estate agents and stock brokers may be fired or not hired simply because of a conviction for petit theft, worthless check, defrauding an innkeeper, theft of utilities, or retail theft. An adjudication on a possession of marijuana or prostitution charge, for example, carries a 2 years suspension of your Florida's driver's license. Furthermore, an adjudication may limit your ability to seal or expunge your charge.