Generally speaking, a felony is any crime punishable by more than a year of incarceration. This encompasses a great many offenses, including certain traffic related crimes. These cases appear in Circuit Court, as opposed to County Court. A conviction for a felony can be a life altering event. In addition to losing many Civil Rights, convicted felons can find themselves discriminated against by employers, landlords, educational institutions, and many others. Our attorneys utilize various strategies to try to get cases dropped, eliminate charges, reduce charges, and minimize sentences, all in an effort help our clients avoid these long-term consequences.
Felonies are classified as a Capital Felony, a Life Felony, a First Degree Felony, a Second Degree Felony, or a Third Degrees Felony. Capital Felonies are the most serious. Capital Felonies are crimes for which a person can be sentenced to the Death Penalty. Life Felonies, on the other hand are punishable by life in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
Maximum sentences for the remaining felony classifications are as follows: First Degree Felonies are punishable by up to 30 years on prison and a $10,000 fine. Second Degree Felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Finally, Third Degree Felonies are punished by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The maximum sentence does not mean that’s what someone’s sentence will be, though. Felony sentencing is largely driven by the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet, certain minimum mandatory sentences, repeat offender statutes, the facts of the case, and prior record. There are a bunch of reasons the Court can consider in deviating, upward or downward, at the time of sentencing. A good defense attorney will know what to highlight for the Court’s consideration when the time comes for sentencing.
The Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet is a tool that provides the Court guidance and, to a certain extent, binds the Court in sentencing. It gives each criminal act, prior criminal acts, and certain factors a point value. That point value or “score” directly correlates to a sentencing recommendation. It was designed to make sentencing across race and gender more equal, but critics would say it eliminates discretion.
Some felonies are also subject to minimum mandatory sentencing. For these crimes, the Court has no discretion in sentencing an individual to at least the minimum mandatory term of incarceration, often without “gain-time.”
Maximum possible sentence can be extended, too, for repeat offenders. Habitual felony offenders, habitual violent felony offenders, three time violent felony offenders, Prison Releasee Re-offenders, and Violent Career Criminals can be subject to significantly extended terms of imprisonment.
For more information about the specific crime for which you or a loved one are accused, see our Florida Crime.
Our lawyers have a combined 35 years of experience defending people accused of felony crimes in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties. If you find yourself accused of a felony offense in South Florida, contact our office for a free consultation.