Encounters with the law can have several different outcomes. In some cases, people are issued infractions such as speeding tickets or seatbelt violations that do not affect the criminal records of these individuals. In criminal cases, alleged offenders may be charged with misdemeanor offenses that carry more serious penalties, including fines and up to one year in jail.
However, if a person is charged with a crime that is considered a felony in Florida, he or she is facing the most severe consequences possible. In addition to lengthy prison sentences and even more substantial fines, there are several additional consequences that can drastically affect the civil rights of convicted felons long after cases are closed.JACKSONVILLE FELONY CHARGES LAWYER
Were you recently arrested for allegedly committing a felony offense in Florida? You should contact Roelke Law, P.A. as soon as possible for help developing the strongest possible defense against the charges you face.
Duval County felony charges attorney Bill Roelke aggressively defends clients all over the Jacksonville area, including Green Cove Spring, Orange Park, Callahan, Middleburg, St. Augustine, Hilliard, and many other surrounding communities. Our firm will provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (904) 354-0333 right now to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
FLORIDA FELONY CHARGES INFORMATION CENTER
- What crimes are classified as felonies in Florida?
- How are minimum and maximum sentences determined in these cases?
- What are some of the other ways a felony conviction can affect a person’s life?
The Florida Statutes define which crimes are classified as felony offenses in the Sunshine State. Felonies are more serious in nature than misdemeanors and typically involve more significant harm to property or other people.
Felony offenses are handled in circuit courts in Florida. The Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida handles felony cases for Duval County, Clay County, and Nassau County, while felony offenses in St. Johns County are handled in the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.
There are several crimes that may be classified as felonies in Florida. This includes the following types of drug crimes:
- Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana
- Possession of any other controlled substance (except for three grams or fewer of certain painkillers)
- Possession with intent to sell
- Drug Trafficking
The following theft offenses are also considered felonies:
- Armed robbery
- Grand larceny
- Shoplifting over $300
Weapons offenses such as the following are felony crimes:
- Carrying concealed weapon or firearm
- Possession of a weapon by a felon
- Firearm discharged during commission of felony
Some of the other crimes that may be classified as felonies include, but are not limited to:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated assault of law enforcement officer
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated battery of law enforcement officer
- Child abuse
- Credit card fraud over $100
- Criminal mischief resulting in over $1,000 in property damage
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) — Applies to third conviction within 10 years, fourth or subsequent conviction, DUI with serious bodily injury, or DUI manslaughter
- Embezzlement over $300
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving bodily injury or death
- Resisting arrest with violence
- Sexual battery
The possible maximum sentence for a person who is convicted of a felony in Florida depends on the degree of the felony for which they he or she has been charged with. There are five degrees of felony offenses in Florida:
- Third-Degree Felony – Up to five years in prison and fine of up to $5,000
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 15 years and fine of up to $10,000
- First-Degree Felony — Up to 30 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000
- Life Felony — Up to life in prison and fine of up to $15,000
- Capital Felony — Punishable by the death penalty
Repeat felony offenders can be subject to enhanced sentences under Florida Statute § 775.084. Under this statute, certain felons may be classified as Violent Career Criminals, Habitual Felony Offenders, Habitual Violent Felony Offenders, Three-Time Violent Felony Offenders, or Prison Releasee Reoffenders.
In addition to the statutory maximum penalties, prosecutors are required to complete scoresheets in accordance with the Florida Criminal Punishment Code to determine the mandatory minimum sentences for all felony cases. The scoresheet uses a formula that accounts for the severity of the felony that the alleged offender is currently charged with as well as his or her criminal history.
The first page of the scoresheet breaks up the criminal record of the alleged offender into three categories. The felony charge that the alleged offender is currently facing (or the most severe offense if he or she is facing multiple charges) is considered the primary offense. If there are multiple charges (including misdemeanors), they will be scored under additional offenses. Finally, all previous adult convictions will be scored under prior record unless the alleged offender has a period of 10 consecutive years without a conviction.
The scoring for these categories is as follows:
There are a multitude of other factors that can influence an alleged offender’s final score. These include:
- Victim Injury
- Legal Status Violation
- Community Sanction Violation Before the Court for Sentencing
- Firearm/Semi-Automatic or Machine Gun
- Prior Serious Felony
Additionally, sentences may be subject to enhancements if any of the following are applicable:
- Violations of the Law Enforcement Protection Act
- Drug Trafficking
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Criminal Gang Offense
- Domestic Violence in the Presence of Related Child
- Adult-on-Minor Sex Offense
If the total number of points after all of these different categories have been accounted for is 22 points or less, then the court will have to sentence the alleged offender to a non-state prison sanction. If the total is 44 points or less, a non-state prison sanction would be the lowest permissible sentence although the statutory maximum sentence is also applicable.
If the total is greater than 44 points, then the prosecutor will plug the amount into a formula used to determine the number of months for the lowest permissible prison sentence. The prosecutor will subtract 28 from the total and reduce that new amount by 25 percent (or multiply it by 0.75).
It is critical for an alleged to be working with an extremely knowledgeable Jacksonville criminal lawyer when these scoresheets are being calculated, as prosecutors are certainly susceptible to mathematical errors that can dramatically affect minimum sentences. Additionally, an attorney can also challenge how a prosecutor categorizes certain offenses.
Prison and fines are the two immediate penalties that justifiably concern alleged offenders the most, but there are several other ways that a felony conviction can haunt people long after they have been convicted. It is important for anybody facing these types of charges to understand the possible consequences that tend to be overlooked when prosecutors may be offering plea deals.
A few of the other ways that an alleged offender will be affected if he or she is convicted of a felony include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of Right to Vote — Florida is one of only three states in which a felony conviction results in the loss of voting rights for life.
- Unable to Hold Public Office — Under the Florida Constitution, no person convicted of a felony will be qualified to hold public office.
- Prohibited from Possessing Firearm — Under federal law and Florida Statute § 790.23, it is unlawful for a convicted felon to own or to have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm, ammunition, or electric weapon or device, or to carry a concealed weapon, including a tear gas gun or chemical weapon or device.
- Loss of Federal or State Benefits — Certain felony convictions can make people ineligible for certain benefits. For example, a drug-related felony may prohibit an alleged offender from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or “food stamps”) or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
- Travel Restrictions — Convicted felons may still be able to obtain passports, but certain countries may refuse entry to individuals based on their criminal records.
- Employment, Housing, and Credit Restrictions — Applicants for certain jobs, housing, or loans can be required to disclose their felony convictions, and these criminal records may impact hiring, housing, or lending decisions in such cases. Many professional licenses will not be granted to individuals with felony convictions.
- Inability to Seal or Expunge Criminal Record — A felony conviction is considered a mandatory disqualification in the jury selection process.
There are a couple of ways in which a convicted felon may regain these rights. One form of clemency is receiving a full pardon from the Governor with the agreement of two Cabinet members who are also statewide elected officials. People may apply for pardons, but it is extremely rare for people to have their rights restored in this manner.
The other way for a convicted felon to regain his or her civil rights is to apply for Restoration of Civil Rights (RCR) with the Office of Executive Clemency. Certain applications may require a hearing by the Clemency Board or an Examiner of the Florida Parole Commission. A Jacksonville attorney can provide valuable assistance in preparing and filing these types of applications.
If you have been charged with any kind of felony criminal offense in Florida, you will want to be sure that you have experienced legal counsel. Roelke Law, P.A. fights to get the most favorable resolutions for clients in Duval County, St. Johns County, Clay County, and Nassau County.
Bill Roelke has been handling these types of cases for more than a quarter-century. He will review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (904) 354-0333 today to take advantage of a free, no obligation consultation.