Crimes are classified into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Of the two, misdemeanors are the less serious, and the range of punishment is less severe. That does not mean that if you are charged with a misdemeanor that you should ignore the charges, because every case can bring consequences that are difficult to accept. In any case, regardless of the severity or the facts, the best approach is to partner with a qualified criminal defense attorney, so your rights are protected. Nearly every case requires you to pay fines and costs, and most cases include the possibility of serving time behind bars, unless you are able to reach a different resolution.
The classification of crimes in Florida also includes the maximum range of punishment for each crime. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to (and no more than) one year in jail, while felonies can be punished with up to a life sentence or the death penalty. Most traffic violations, including DUIs, are considered misdemeanors. More serious crimes, like murder, are felonies. There are also degrees of crime within these classifications, and for misdemeanors the difference between a first and second degree case is as follows:
● A first degree misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor, and it can land you in jail for up to a year and require you to pay a fine of up to $1,000.00. Theft of property with a value of at least $100.00, but no more than $300.00 in value, for example, is defined as a first degree misdemeanor. All it takes is walking out of the store with a pair of Air Jordans on your feet, without paying, and you can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.
● A second degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and payment of a fine of up to $500.00. This type of case is less serious than a first degree misdemeanor, and, in many instances, the defendant can negotiate a punishment that eliminates the requirement to spend time in jail.
Probation is a popular way to resolve misdemeanor cases, but you have to make sure you can comply with the terms in order to go this route. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will help you decide what is best for you and make strategic arguments on your behalf.
If you have questions about misdemeanor criminal cases, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West. Call us today for help.