Being charged with any kind of criminal offense can be a stressful situation. Felonies are particularly worrisome as being convicted can not only lead to significant jail time, but may also affect your educational, housing, work, and financial opportunities in the future. Because of the potentially serious ramifications, it’s best to consult an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Apfelbaum Law may be able to assist you with your criminal matter.
Types of Felonies
Felonies are potentially punishable by more than one year in a state correctional facility. Some common felony charges include:
- Aggravated assault
- Battery on a law enforcement officer
- Residential burglary
- Child abuse
- Possession of a controlled substance
- Grand Theft Auto
- Sexual assault
- Drug trafficking
There are different classes of felonies, and different types of penalties, if convicted. The following are the degrees and corresponding maximum penalties for felony offenses, as outlined in Florida Statutes:
- Capital Felony–Life in prison without parole or death penalty
- Life Felony–Life in prison and fine up to $15,000
- First Degree Felony–Up to 30 years in prison and $10,000 fine
- Second Degree Felony–Up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 fine
- Third Degree Felony–Up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
Capital or Life Felonies
Capital and life felonies are considered the most severe crimes in Florida, and are potentially punishable by the death penalty. First degree murder is the most common capital felony. Life felonies are punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.
Felonies of the First Degree
First degree felonies in Florida are also quite serious and are typically punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of first-degree felonies include aggravated battery on an officer, drug trafficking (including cannabis, in some cases), trafficking in stolen goods, burglary with assault or battery, and aggravated child abuse.
Felonies of the Second Degree
Being convicted for a felony of the second degree may result in a prison term of up to fifteen years, and a fine of up to $10,000. Some common second-degree felonies include aggravated battery, burglary of a dwelling, DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, robbery by sudden snatching, selling marijuana to a minor, and selling cocaine.
Felonies of the Third Degree
Felonies of the third degree are considered the least severe kinds of felonies in Florida, but are still punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Theft of an automobile, forgery, possession of burglary tools, possession of marijuana, resisting an officer with violence, unemployment compensation fraud, bribery, and carrying a handgun without a permit, are all punishable as a felony of the third degree in Florida. Other felony charges that have not been specifically categorized are usually prosecuted as third-degree felonies. There is some discretion involved in how felonies are handled, and a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney may, in some situations, be able to get the charges reduced to a misdemeanor, or dismissed entirely, depending on the circumstances of the case. These circumstances may include a person’s prior criminal record, if any, as well as any extenuating circumstances of the alleged crime.
Prior Felony Convictions
Any felony charge is a serious concern that can have far-reaching consequences, but prior felony convictions may further complicate matters. In Florida, individuals who have previously been convicted of two or more felonies, and are convicted of a third, may, in some circumstances, be sentenced to a lengthier term in prison under Florida law.
Statute of Limitations
The state is required to start criminal prosecution within a set period of time, called the statute of limitations. This statute of limitations usually begins when the defendant commits the crime. Under state law, more serious crimes have longer statutes of limitations. The most serious crimes (typically murder or other serious offenses) have no statutes of limitations. Your Florida defense attorney can advise you on the statute of limitations for various offenses.
If you are convicted of any felony, having that offense on your criminal record may make it difficult for you to find a job, acquire a professional license, rent a home, or receive a college loan from the government. Additionally, you will be prohibited from owning a firearm and from voting. Because of the many long-reaching consequences of a potential felony conviction, these charges should be taken seriously. Consulting an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney is the best first step to take in dealing with these charges.
If you need assistance with your felony case, or have questions about any potential legal matter, please contact Apfelbaum Law for a consultation. We have offices in Port St. Lucie and Stuart, but provide legal services throughout the Treasure Coast and Florida.