In Florida, crimes are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by up to one year in county jail and classified as misdemeanors of the first or second degree. Felonies are more serious crimes, punishable by the death penalty or incarceration in a state prison. (Fla. Stat. §§ 775.08, 775.081 (2019).)
For more information on felonies in Florida, see Florida Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
First degree misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors in Florida, punishable by jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to $1,000. Theft of property valued at $100 or more, but less than $750, is an example of a misdemeanor of the first degree. (Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082, 775.083 (2019).)
Misdemeanors of the second degree are the least serious misdemeanors in Florida, and a conviction can result in a jail term of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. If lawmakers fail to classify a misdemeanor, then it is punishable as a misdemeanor of the second degree. For example, prostitution is a misdemeanor of the second degree. (Fla. Stat. §§ 775.081, 775.082, 775.083 (2019).)
For all misdemeanors in Florida, the state must begin criminal prosecution within a set period of time, called the statute of limitations, after which the defendant can have the case dismissed. The statute of limitations begins to “run” when the crime is committed. In Florida, misdemeanors of the first degree generally have a two-year statute of limitations, while misdemeanors of the second degree typically have a limitation period of one year. (Fla. Stat. § 775.15 (2019).)
All criminal convictions can have severe consequences that can continue long after a defendant is released from jail or has paid a fine. Talking to a Florida criminal defense attorney about your case is the best way to learn about the possible consequences of a criminal conviction, what to expect in court, and how best to protect yourself. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best outcome possible given your particular circumstances.