Do you know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? In every state, different crimes are considered either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the seriousness of the matter and Florida is no exception. Whether the crime is prosecuted at the state or federal level, the rules are similar. It can be important to understand the difference because the penalties for each are drastically different. Misdemeanors mean a prison sentence of one year or less, while felonies carry a prison sentence of more than one year.

In Florida, federal crimes are prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys and can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. As noted above, misdemeanors mean a prison sentence of one year or less, while felonies mean a prison sentence of more than one year. To be convicted of either, federal prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of committing the crime in question. In federal court, you are not entitled to take depositions. Prosecutors will rely on the evidence found during discovery to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. At the state level, criminal cases are handled by Florida County Courts. You are entitled to take depositions.

Many people find it difficult to understand the difference between misdemeanors and felonies. Looking at common crimes and seeing which fall into each category can be enlightening. For instance, assault is defined as making a threat that causes fear of harm. This is a 2nd degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months  probation, and/or a $500 fine. If the assault is “aggravated” by carrying a deadly weapon, then it becomes a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. If the assault is “aggravated with a firearm,” even heavier penalties apply under Florida’s 10-20-Life Law.

Battery is defined as “unwanted touching or other causing of physical harm.” This is a 1st degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If it is “aggravated” by carrying a weapon, it is a 2nd degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

As you can see, the main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony lies in the seriousness of the crime. The resulting penalties are aligned with the seriousness.

While the potential penalties for someone facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge can vary in severity, the consequences of being convicted of either can have devastating consequences on a person’s life. For trusted criminal defense counsel, our office is here to help. Do not hesitate to call, chat or click here to contact us today!