Many people are aware that, in Florida, crimes are classified as misdemeanors and felonies. Few people truly understand the ramifications of being charged with or convicted of felony offenses, however. Fortunately, Florida law explicitly explains what constitutes a felony and the potential punishments that may be imposed on people convicted of such offenses. If you are charged with a felony, it is critical to speak to a skillful Clearwater criminal defense lawyer to evaluate your options and potential defenses.
What is a Felony in Florida?
While all criminal charges deserve attention, felonies are more serious crimes than misdemeanors. In Florida, felonies are classified as life or capital felonies and felonies of the first, second, and third-degree.
Capital felonies are the most serious offenses and are punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. First-degree murder is likely the crime that is most commonly charged as a capital felony. The second most serious offenses are life felonies, which are punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and life imprisonment.
A conviction for a felony of the first degree can result in up to thirty years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. A conviction for a felony of the second degree can result in a fine of up to $10,000 as well, but the prison sentence for such offenses is limited to fifteen years. Felonies of the third degree can result in a penalty of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
Sentencing in Cases Involving Felonies
People convicted of felony crimes are sentenced under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code (CPC), which is often referred to as a score sheet. Pursuant to the CPC, felonies are given numerical values that are based on a ranking system established by the Florida legislature. More serious crimes are given higher rankings, which results in a greater CPC score sheet score.
If the score for a person convicted of a felony is less than 44 points, it is within the court’s discretion as to whether a sentence to a term of imprisonment is appropriate. People who have scores of 44 points or more, however, will be sentenced to imprisonment.
Additionally, the courts take into consideration whether a person who is convicted of a felony has two or more prior felony convictions when determining an appropriate sentence pursuant to Florida Statute § 775.084. Specifically, if the court finds that a person is a “habitual violent offender” as defined by the law, it can impose a greater prison sentence. Only certain felony convictions are taken into consideration under the terms of the law, however.
Speak to a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney in Clearwater
Felonies are serious crimes that carry significant penalties, but many people charged with such offenses are able to obtain favorable verdicts. If you are charged with a felony, it is smart to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney who can develop a plan to help you seek the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Hanlon through the form online or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a conference.