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The Differences Between a Felony and Misdemeanor

Misdemeanors

A misdemeanors is a crime punishable by the State of Florida and its laws. Misdemeanors are often less severe crimes that are punishable for only up to a year in jail. For a misdemeanor, there is no preliminary hearings, the defendant simply goes to court and faces a judge without a jury and a verdict is rendered. Some misdemeanors may also have a fine a punishment however, it is a substantially lower sum than that of a felony. Misdemeanors may carry a probationary period, however there is no life long restrictions as such when a felony is committed.

Felonies

A felony is a more series crime punishable by the State of Florida and its laws. Felonies are considered more series crimes that have a minimum of one year in jail sentence. In Florida there are; Capital Felonies, which could result in the death penalty; life felonies, for imprisonment up to thirty years; all the way down to a third degree felony, which can not exceed five years of imprisonment. A conviction of a felony can result in more than just hefty fines and long imprisonments. Upon release from jail, a person convicted of a felony no longer has the right to possess firearms, could lose licenses such as fishing and hunting, and in some states can no longer vote.

Gray Areas

In some cases a crime can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In these cases the prosecution looks to either an additional element or an aggravating characteristic. An additional element or an aggravating characteristic most commonly refer to whether or not a weapon was used. For example if you get in a bar fight and punch someone it would be considered a misdemeanor. However if you get in a bar fight and stab someone with a broken bottle it becomes a felony. It can also be used in reference to drug charges, as only a small personal amount of marijuana would be considered a misdemeanor, however if you posses twenty pounds it would be upgraded to felony based on the amount of drugs. The second factor the state looks at when deciding whether to charge a misdemeanor or felony would be intent. This refers to the fact of whether or not the defendant intended to break the law.

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