A felony is distinguished from a misdemeanor by the potential of how much time you may be incarcerated. If your criminal violation is punishable by up to one year in jail, then it is a misdemeanor. Felonies are any crime for which you can be sentenced to more than one year in jail or state prison.
Florida has five basic classifications for felonies, ranging from third degree to capital felony. Any felony conviction carries substantial consequences for the offender including the loss of freedom for decades or life in some cases. Convicted felons often experience considerable difficulties in finding suitable employment, renting a residence or apartment or attending school. If you are a sex offender, you may be obligated to register as such and ordered to stay away from schools or parks. You will also not be permitted to own or possess firearms, be ineligible for federal or state aid or run for elected office and not be able to obtain or retain a state license. Furthermore, if you have a felony record and commit a subsequent crime, your sentence will be enhanced.
Third Degree Felony
A third degree felony is the least serious of the felony classifications where the maximum time you can be sentenced to state prison is five years and/or pay a fine up to $5,000. Restitution to a victim may also be ordered. Habitual offenders, though, can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison even for a third degree felony. You are also subject to 5 years of probation.
Most drug possession offenses and non-violent property crimes are third degree felonies. If you are a first time offender, you may be eligible for Pre-trial Intervention and have your conviction dismissed upon successful completion. Other examples are:
Second Degree Felony
Second degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. Offenders can also be ordered to pay restitution to a victim and serve 15 years on probation. Examples of these felonies are:
First Degree Felony
You can receive up to 30 years in state prison for a first degree felony and pay a fine up to $10,000 along with 30 years on probation. First degree felonies include:
As the name implies, imprisonment may be from 40 years to life along with a fine up to $15,000 as well as restitution. You could spend the remainder of your life on probation or on parole once you are released from prison.
Florida has capital punishment as well as life without parole. Restitution may also be ordered to the victim’s family. First degree murder is a capital felony, which is premeditated murder. A capital felony also includes a murder if you were involved in certain other criminal conduct such as a home invasion, robbery, arson, kidnapping, sexual battery or trafficking in drugs.