In Florida, crimes are categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies. If you've been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, the differences in regards to felony law vs. misdemeanor law could have enormous consequences on the ultimate result of your defense against these charges. Below are some basic differences between these two degrees of legal severity, but for a full explanation, you need to immediately contact the Gapske Law Firm, P.A..


Misdemeanor Offenses
Misdemeanor offenses are handled by the county court and are usually considered less serious crimes than felony offenses.

  1. Second-Degree Misdemeanor is a crime punishable by no more than sixty days in jail, six months of probation, and a $500 fine.
  2. First-Degree Misdemeanor is a crime punishable by no more than one year in jail, one-year probation, and a $1,000 fine.

 A misdemeanor is of the particular degree designated by statute. Any crime declared by statute to be a misdemeanor without specification of degree is of the second degree.

Felony Offenses
Felony cases are handled by Circuit Court. If you score more than 44 points on the sentencing score sheet, you are subject to a minimum term of imprisonment. If you score less than 44 points, a judge is not required to sentence you to prison, but may still do so.

  1. Capital felony is punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of parole;
  2. Life felony is punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole, or probation for the remainder of your life, and a $15,000 fine;
  3. Felony of the first degree is punishable by up to thirty years in prison, thirty years probation, and a $10,000 fine;
  4. Felony of the second degree is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, fifteen years probation, and a $10,000 fine; and
  5. Felony of the third degree is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a $5,000 fine. .

A capital felony and a life felony must be so designated by statute.  Any crime declared by statute to be a felony without specification of degree is of the third degree, except that this provision shall not affect felonies punishable by life imprisonment for the first offense.


Felony Law vs. Misdemeanor Law - Consequential Differences

There are two central differences between a felony and a misdemeanor, and they both relate to the ultimate consequences you face if you are convicted of these charges. The first main difference regards the penalties or sanctions you face if you're convicted. Almost all felonies carry much more severe penalties than misdemeanors, and these penalties include more substantial fines, longer sentences and more severe repercussions after your ultimate release.

The second important difference relates to your ability to reintegrate into society after you have served your prison term or paid your fine. If you are convicted of a felony, that conviction will remain on your permanent record, and you will lose your right to vote as well as be forced to explain your felony conviction to any potential employer. Generally speaking, misdemeanors do not carry the same long-term consequences.

Felony Law vs. Misdemeanor Law - How an Attorney Can Help

Depending on which crime you're charged with, a criminal defense attorney from Gapske Law Firm, P.A. can help in two specific ways that could help you limit your long-term consequences. The first manner in which an attorney can help is obvious. He or she can help you defend your charges and to seek an acquittal if the evidence against you is not sufficient to obtain a conviction. If this is what happens, you will generally walk away from this process without having to face any additional exposure.

The second manner in which a criminal defense attorney can help is by working with prosecutors to "plead down" your charges as they relate to certain crimes. For instance, if you are charged with a felony battery, it may be possible for your attorney to work out a plea agreement with the State Attorney's office that allows you to plead guilty or no contest to a misdemeanor charge, meaning that you will not face the same long-term consequences that you would with a felony conviction.

Every specific situation is different, which is why you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Gapske Law Firm, P.A..