Although misdemeanors are less serious than felony crimes, this offers little consolation to someone who has never had contact with the criminal justice system. You need an experienced Miami misdemeanor attorney on your side to ensure that your rights are protected and increase the chances of a favorable outcome in your case.
For many people, being arrested or charged with a misdemeanor is extremely serious. Misdemeanor convictions can have significant consequences on one’s personal life, career, and immigration status if not a U.S. citizen. Most misdemeanor prosecutions take place in state court, although there are some federal crimes that are also classified as misdemeanors.
At The Edelstein Firm, we understand your misdemeanor case is a serious matter—regardless of how it is classified or compares to other cases.
What is a Misdemeanor?
In Florida, any jail sentence of a year or less is served in a county jail. Because a misdemeanor sentence cannot exceed a year in jail, a person convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to any term of imprisonment will always serve that sentence in a county jail. Only defendants convicted of felonies—who receive a sentence greater than a year—are sentenced to Florida state prison.
Oftentimes, the difference between a crime being a felony or a misdemeanor is a matter of degree. For example, a theft crime is usually classified as grand theft (felony) or petit theft (misdemeanor) based upon the value of the property allegedly stolen. On the other hand, some types of offenses, like fraud crimes, are always felonies, while other crimes are always misdemeanors.
Arrest for Misdemeanor Must Be in Officer’s Presence
As a general rule, a police officer can only arrest someone for a misdemeanor if it occurs in their presence, or they are in “fresh pursuit.” There any many exceptions, however. These exceptions are listed in Florida Statute Section 901.15 and include arrests for: domestic violence, battery, traffic offense in some circumstances, assault on a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief, and shoplifting. Regardless of whether the officer is present, all arrests for misdemeanors must be based upon probable cause.
When a police officer makes the decision not to arrest a person but still wants to charge them with a crime, they can issue the defendant what is called a “notice to appear.” In practice, the officer uses the same form regardless of whether they are arresting the defendant or giving them a notice to appear. There is simply a place in the bottom right-hand corner of the arrest affidavit where the defendant must sign if the officer is issuing them a notice to appear. Sometimes, a misdemeanor case can begin with a summons instead of a notice to appear. The summons is usually a court notice the accused receives in the mail ordering them to appear in court.
Other Important Misdemeanor Differences from Felonies
Misdemeanor cases also differ from felonies in that the defense attorney is usually not allowed to take depositions of the State’s witnesses. A deposition is essentially a sworn statement. Like all rules though, there are exceptions. If the defense lawyer can show the judge that there is “good cause” to take depositions, then the judge should allow them. The defendant is also allowed to take depositions if the prosecutor has taken statements of witness that the accused has listed in his or her defense. The time the prosecutor has to bring an accused to trial in a misdemeanor case is also much shorter than in a felony case. While a prosecutor has 180 days to bring a defendant to trial in a felony case, the prosecutor must bring a person charged with only misdemeanors to trial within 90 days.
What Courts Hear Misdemeanors?
Florida’s court system is divided into two tiers: county courts and circuit courts. County courts generally have jurisdiction over misdemeanors and circuit courts have jurisdiction over felonies. Circuit courts can also hear misdemeanors if they come out of the same circumstances as a felony that is charged. County courts, on the other hand, never have jurisdiction over felony crimes.
First-Degree and Second-Degree Misdemeanor Penalties
Florida separates misdemeanors into two classes: misdemeanors of the first-degree and misdemeanors of the second-degree. Second-degree misdemeanors generally have a maximum jail sentence of 60 days while first-degree misdemeanors generally have a maximum punishment of up to one year in county jail.
Misdemeanor Maximum Sentences
|First||1 year||1 year||$1,000|
|Second||60 days||6 months||$500|
See §775.082(4)(a) & (b).
More Misdemeanor Resources
- Florida Statute 775.081 – Classifications of Felonies and Misdemeanors
- Florida Statute 775.083 – Fines
- Florida Statute 775.0837 – Habitual Misdemeanor Offenders
Contact an Experienced Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney
Over the years, our Miami misdemeanor attorneys have represented thousands of clients in a wide range of cases. Whether it was a shoplifting charge or domestic violence case, we have helped countless people put their cases behind them and move on with their lives. In fact, there is a good chance that we have represented clients who were in situations similar to ours who shared many of your needs and concerns. Feel free to browse through the results section of our site for a representative sample of some of our past cases, and the results we have achieved for our clients.
Our firm regularly represents clients charged with:
- Disorderly Conduct / Intoxication
- Obstructing Justice
- Resisting Without Violence
- Petit Theft
- Criminal Mischief
- Simple Assault
- Simple Battery
- Stalking / Aggravated Stalking
- Domestic Violence
- Prostitution Offenses / Soliciting
- Indecent Exposure
- Loitering and Prowling
- Possession of Cannabis
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Reckless Driving
- Driving with a Suspended License (DWLS)
- Fleeing and Eluding
By taking the immediate action of hiring an experienced Miami misdemeanor crimes attorney to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your criminal case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation. CALL US NOW for a CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at securely encrypted intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry., or simply take a moment to fill out our
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ALWAYS INVESTIGATE A LAWYER’S QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE BEFORE MAKING A DECISION ON HIRING A LAWYER FOR A MISDEMEANOR CASE