Key differences between a felony and a misdemeanor

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2023 | blog, Criminal Defense

When it comes to criminal offenses in Florida, it is important to grasp the crucial disparities between felonies and misdemeanors.

These distinctions play a significant role in determining the severity of legal consequences a person may face.

Nature of the offense

Felonies are the more severe of the two categories. They encompass offenses considered particularly heinous and carry significant social, ethical and legal consequences. These crimes often involve violence, harm to others or significant property damage. In 2021, Florida law enforcement reported 80,823 violent crimes.

Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are less severe offenses, generally involving non-violent acts or minor disturbances. These offenses often result in less harm to individuals or property and typically result in less severe consequences.

Potential consequences

Felonies carry more severe penalties, including longer prison sentences and higher fines. In Florida, felonies are further classified into different degrees, with first-degree felonies being the most serious. A person convicted of a felony may face imprisonment ranging from one year to life, depending on the degree of the felony.

In contrast, a person convicted of a misdemeanor in Florida may face imprisonment of up to one year and lower fines compared to felonies. However, the specific punishment can vary depending on the class of the misdemeanor, with first-degree misdemeanors carrying stiffer penalties than second-degree misdemeanors.

Civil rights

Convictions for felonies can have more far-reaching consequences beyond incarceration and fines. Felons often lose certain civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury or possess firearms. Additionally, they may encounter challenges when seeking employment, housing or professional licenses due to the stigma associated with felony convictions.

Facing any type of criminal charge can have a long-lasting impact. Understanding the charges fully makes dealing with challenging legal proceedings smoother.