Felony / Misdemeanor

Crimes in Florida are generally classified into two classes, Felony and Misdemeanor.  A felony offense is any crime which can result in incarceration for more than 365 days.  Felony offenses are further divided into categories called degrees.

Capital Felony Maximum penalty is death.
Life FelonyMaximum penalty life in prison(in Florida a life sentence means just that.A defendant spends their entire life in prison.)  
1st Degree FelonyMaximum penalty up to 30 years in prison
2nd Degree FelonyMaximum penalty up to 15 yeas in prison
3rd Degree FelonyMaximum penalty up to 5 years in prison


A person charged with a felony in Florida, at the time of sentencing will have a criminal scoresheet prepared by the prosecution which determines the sentencing range the Judge can impose for the charged offense.  Those scoresheets calculate factors designated by the Legislature as relevant to sentencing.  Each offense is given a numerical value, as are other factors, such as victim injury and the Defendant’s prior record.  If a Defendant’s scoresheet points equal 44 or more then the Judge is required to impose a prison sentence, unless there is a “mitigated departure.” A person sentenced to prison in Florida, must complete 85% of the sentence prior to being released, unless the offense has a minimum mandatory provision.  Some offenses are designated as “min/man” offenses.  This means that a person convicted of one of these crimes will be required to serve at least the min/mandatory amount of time in prison.  Such offenses involve firearm charges, drug trafficking, and certain sex offenses.


Question 1. I was placed on three years probation and I violated my probation can I be sentenced to more than three years?

Answer: Yes, a Judge can sentence anyone up to the statutory maximum, regardless of how much time was spent on probation.

Question 2. I have felony convictions in another state do these offenses count against me when calculating my score sheet?

Answer: Yes, all crimes committed prior to sentencing will be factored into your  score sheet as long as they are equivalent to a crime in Florida.

Question 3. I have no prior record at all, can the Judge sentence me to the maximum?

Answer: Yes, although it is unlikely that a Judge would sentence someone to the maximum on a first offense, they do have the authority to sentence a first time offender to the statutory maximum.


A misdemeanor offense is one where the maximum penalty is 364 days in a county jail.  Misdemeanors are also divided into degree classifications consisting of 1st degree and 2nd degree.

1st DegreeMaximum penalty is 364 days in jail.
2nd DegreeMaximum penalty is 60 days in jail

There are some offenses such as DUI and reckless driving that are not designated 1st or 2nd degree and have their own specific sanctions.

There are several misdemeanor offenses which if you have previously been convicted of can be reclassified as a felony.  These include battery, DWLS/R, DUI, and theft.

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