Crimes in the state of Florida are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are the more serious of the two, with imprisonment or death as a possible punishment in many cases.
Felonies are classified by the first, second or third degree. Since misdemeanor crimes are generally less serious, they are usually punishable by up to one year in county jail, although the judge does have some discretion over the other punishments that may be attached to a conviction.
Felony charges in Florida are a serious matter, and they should only be handled by a knowledgeable West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney.
Capital Vs. Life Felonies
The most serious crimes in the state of Florida are known as life or capital felonies. These are punishable by the death penalty in the state of Florida.
An example of a capital felony is first degree murder. Life felonies could also be punished by life imprisonment and fines of up to $15,000.
What is a Felony in the First Degree?
First degree felonies in Florida can include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Examples of a felony in the first degree is aggravated battery to a law enforcement officer while the officer is engaged in official duties.
What is a Felony of the Second Degree?
Slightly less serious than felonies of the first degree, selling marijuana to a minor is an example of a second degree felony. This can lead to consequences of up to 15 years in prison and fines that can go as high as $10,000.
What is a Felony in the Third Degree?
These are the least serious types of felonies in Florida with fines up to $5000 and up to 5 years in prison. If the lawmakers in Florida have not properly designated the punishment for a degree of a felony, then the crime will be punished as a third degree felony.
Some examples of these crimes in the state of Florida include carrying a handgun without a permit or grand theft auto.
What about Prior Felony Convictions?
Individuals who have previously been convicted of two or more felonies in the state of Florida who are facing other felony charges can be looking at serious terms in prison under the recidivist sentencing schemes in Florida.
If you find yourself in this situation, then it is imperative that you get legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney sooner rather than later. Judges are not likely to take multiple felony convictions lightly in Florida, and this is why you need an attorney who is committed to fighting your case as effectively as possible.
What About the Statute of Limitations?
The state is responsible for beginning criminal prosecution within a set period of time, which is known as the statute of limitations. The clock typically starts when a crime is committed.
Serious crimes in Florida have longer statutes of limitations and the most serious crimes have no statute of limitations. You should always consult with your West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney to determine whether the statute of limitations is a factor in your case.
What to Do If You Are Accused of a Felony Crime
You need to understand the implications of being charged with a felony in the state of Florida as well as your rights so that you know what to do if this happens to you. When you have been arrested by an officer of the law there are several events that take place.
The police maintain a responsibility to follow specific procedures as an arrest happens and at multiple stages throughout until you actually go to jail.
Although law enforcement maintains control during the arrest and some of the other aspects of the process, as an individual you are still protected by the Constitution as it relates to your legal rights.
Learn more about the criminal process in Florida.
Miranda Rights and Felonies
One of the most common defenses to crimes in the state of Florida will have to do with a violation of your rights. There are several different ways that this can happen, and an example of one is if the officer fails to give you your constitutional rights before any kind of questioning.
You also have to be informed about the charges they are applying against you. This is especially true when you are in custody and being questioned.
Learning Your Rights Might Save You…
Your Miranda rights include the right not answer police questions, the right to remain silent, and the right to ask to speak to your attorney. This also includes that if you cannot afford an attorney, one must be appointed to represent you.
If you do choose to waive your right to remain silent and provide information to the police, the details you provide to the officers could be used against you as far as evidence in court.
Police officers may try to encourage you to give them responses to various questions by acting as though they are concerned about your best interest and cooperation.
Rights You Probably DON'T Know About Miranda
How a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help to Protect Your Rights
No one can penalize you for refusing to answer questions that are asked by the officers. It is imperative that you speak to your criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been arrested because he or she can advise you on whether or not it is in your best interest to speak.
In the highly emotional process of being accused of a crime, it is easy to say things or to make mistakes that can make your case look bad. Having a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney advise you about what to do instead is your best course of action so that you can be fully prepared to fight the charges.
You also have additional rights outside of your Miranda rights. You have the right place a phone call to tell someone about your arrest and charges, and you are authorized more than one phone call, too.
You can also refuse any tests until you have spoken directly to your attorney. Speaking to the police or not understanding all of your rights clearly can land you in hot water as an individual accused of a crime.
You can jeopardize the outcome of your case if you are not careful. This is why it is important to understand all of your rights and to consult directly with your West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged. Doing so may just help you prepare a compelling case.