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What are the different degrees of felonies in Florida?

People generally understand that committing a crime can result in penalties and that the more serious a crime is, the more serious the penalty will be. However, the degree of an offense will hinge directly on the potential penalties that a conviction will carry.

To begin with, people should understand that there are two types of offenses: felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are less severe and come with less aggressive penalties. Felonies are the most serious types of offenses. In this post, we will look at the severity rankings for felony offenses in Florida. 

If you are facing a third-degree felony in Florida, you are facing a maximum of five years in prison. Felonies in the third degree include:

  • Poaching, baiting or molesting certain types of protected animals
  • Purchasing or possessing cannabis
  • Reproducing a trade secret
  • Forgery
  • Impersonating an officer

Second-degree felonies are more serious and the maximum amount of prison time that can be ordered is increased to 15 years. These offenses could include:

  • Selling or manufacturing cannabis
  • Aggravated assault on certain people
  • Engaging in sexual activity with a specified minor
  • Arson
  • Making threats or engaging in extortion

If you are charged with a first-degree felony, you are facing a maximum of 30 years in prison. These are among the most serious offenses and include:

  • Aggravated battery
  • Attempted sexual battery
  • Insurance fraud
  • Trafficking in cannabis and other controlled substances
  • DUI manslaughter

The most serious offenses are those punishable by death or by life in prison. Those can include:

  • Treason¬†
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual battery involving a child
  • Homicide
  • Use, possession or sale of weapons of mass destruction

These are just a few examples of the types of crimes that are charged as different degrees, and the severity of specific charges will depend on the presence of factors that can increase the degree of a charge. There are also penalties of a conviction besides prison time including fines and restitution.

What readers can take away from this post is that challenging charges isn't something that is always done on a guilty or not-guilty basis. In many cases, a defense is aimed at seeking a reduced sentence by challenging the factors that are resulting in a second-degree felony instead of a third-degree felony, for example. Reducing penalties can be crucial in protecting a person's future.

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