If you are potentially facing felony charges in Florida, you likely have many questions: am I going to go to jail or prison? What do the state’s laws regarding sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums mean for me? What role do any prior charges play?
The penalties for a felony conviction in Florida can be severe, including the loss of the right to vote, own a firearm, enlist in the military, hold many jobs, secure housing, and more. In almost every case, retaining a skilled Florida Felony Attorney, with experience representing defendants accused of felony crimes in the state of Florida, is necessary to avoid the most serious felony penalties.
If you are facing felony charges in Florida, criminal defense attorney James Kontos can help. Contact us today for your confidential consultation. We will evaluate your case with you, go over the possible penalties to the charges and develop a defense strategy for obtaining the best possible outcome.
The first step in understanding the felony charges you potential face is decoding Florida’s felony class system. In short, all felonies in the state fall into one of four categories: third degree, second degree, first degree, or life or capital felonies.
Third Degree Felonies
As the least serious class of felony offenses in Florida, third degree felonies are punishable by as much as 5 years in prison as well as fines of as much as $5,000. All felonies that are not specifically classified as higher classes of felony under the law are treated as third degree felonies. Examples of third degree felonies in Florida include automobile theft and possession of a handgun without a proper permit.
Second Degree Felonies
Conviction for a second degree felony carries a maximum prison term of 15 years and fines of up to $10,000. Example of second degree felonies in the state include aggravated battery, burglary (when another person is home) and marijuana sales to minors.
First Degree Felonies
Felonies classified as first degree receive some of the severest punishments under Florida’s penal system: as much as 30 years in prison and fines as much as $10,000. An example of a first degree felony in Florida is aggravated battery toward law enforcement officers.
Life or Capital Felonies
The most serious criminal offenses in the state are life or capital felonies–or, in other words, those crimes punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty. First degree murder is classified as a capital felony in Florida, while kidnapping of a child under 13 years of age can be a life felony punishable with life in prison and fines of up to $15,000.
Florida employs a complex and difficult to understand points system to sentence those convicted of felonies within the state. In short, this points system assigns specific values to the current offense and prior convictions to reach a mandatory minimum sentencing level.
The basic formula for the mandatory minimum sentence following a Florida felony conviction is the total point sum of all criminal convictions in the state minus 28 then multiplied by 0.75. In general, if your score under this formula is more than 44 points, you face a mandatory prison sentence.
Keep in mind that your score under Florida’s points system depends heavily on the charges you face and your prior convictions. Level One offenses (such as counterfeiting a state lottery ticket) carry only four points under this calculation, while Level Ten offenses (such as human trafficking and murder) equal 116 points.
The potential penalties you face when charged with a felony offense in Florida can be extremely grave. Ranging from significant fines to lengthy terms in prison, a Florida felony conviction has the chance to upend your life. If you are facing felony charges within the state–or have reason to believe that charges may be brought against you–obtaining an experienced attorney who has a track record of defending against felony charges in Florida is your best chance for a positive outcome.
If you or a loved one are facing felony charges in the state of Florida, contact Kontos Law today, and let us help you get out from under this burden.