The criminal system divides crimes into three main categories, depending on the severity, to determine how the court system will handle the case and what punishment is imposed. The three categories include Infractions, Misdemeanors and Felonies. In Part 1 of our “Infractions, Misdemeanors & Felonies – Oh My! Series,” we took a closer look at Infractions. In this article we will provide an overview of Misdemeanors.
A Misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is less serious than a felony and more serious than an Infraction. Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine and/or incarceration in jail, Additionally, a court can combine incarceration with probation. The State of Florida places Misdemeanors into two classifications, First Degree Misdemeanors and Second Degree Misdemeanors. The primary difference between Misdemeanors and Felonies, which we will review in an upcoming article, is the length of jail time. Generally, a Misdemeanor carries a sentence of less than one year while Felonies typically carry a sentence over a year. These convictions result in criminal records with the FBI and state police and have a damaging impact on a person’s life – more about that later.
Misdemeanors of the Second Degree:
Misdemeanors of the Second Degree are punished by a statutory maximum of up to 60 days in county jail and a $500.00 fine.. Examples of Second Degree Misdemeanors include (but are not limited to):
- disorderly conduct,
- petit theft (first offense),
- simple assault,
- driving with a suspended license with knowledge (first offense),
- no valid driver’s license.
Misdemeanors of the First Degree:
First Degree Misdemeanors may be punished by up to a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Examples of First Degree Misdemeanors include (but are not limited to):
- DUI first offense),
- Domestic violence,
- Marijuana possession (under twenty grams),
- Possession of drug paraphernalia,
- Petit theft (second offense),
- Criminal Mischief (damages over $200)
- Shoplifting (under $300).
Though not as serious as a Felony, a Misdemeanor may have long lasting consequences. They remain on your public record for life and impact your ability to successfully find employment, obtain a professional certification or license and can result in suspension of your driving privileges in certain circumstances.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor or possibly arrested, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney like D’Lugo and DeFlora, P.A. right away to be sure you understand all the potential consequences of a guilty plea or verdict. We will be able to investigate your case before a decision is made to convict you of a crime that can devastate your entire future. If you have been charged with any offense, misdemeanor or felony, contacting a criminal defense attorney should be the very first thing you do.