Can a Felony Charge Be Reduced To a Misdemeanor?
There are a variety of crimes committed by individuals on a daily basis. Some crimes, such as murder or kidnapping, are considered serious crimes; other crimes, such as speeding or trespassing, are not. All crimes by definition violate a law and the punishments that are imposed on a criminal are based on the type of crime committed. The punishment is usually based on the seriousness of the crime. States may differ as to the classification of any particular crime. A crime committed in one state may be classified differently than if it was committed in another state.
Florida Crime Classification
In criminal law, there are two main crime categories:
A misdemeanor is considered a lesser offense against the state. These crimes tend to entail a penalty of less than a year in prison, small fines, community service, or a combination of any of these. Some of the Misdemeanors example charges are:
- Public intoxication
A felony is considered to be a more serious offense against the state. These crimes tend to entail a penalty of at least a year in prison, major fines, or a combination of both. Some examples of felonies are:
Some crimes, such as theft, can be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Usually theft of a small amount is considered a misdemeanor, such as in the case of shoplifting. However, theft of items that exceed a certain value may be treated as a felony.
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is not always evident and usually varies from state to state. In general, it is fair to say that a misdemeanor can be defined by the maximum length of time a person can be incarcerated for the crime, usually no more than one year. Crimes with a minimum jail time of over a year are usually felonies.
A felony charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor by pleading to the lesser charge, or by disproving the felonious element of the crime. To begin with, each crime has certain elements that must be established to prove the crime was committed by the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. With many felony charges, there is a corresponding misdemeanor that is a lesser-included charge of the felony. This means that the elements of a misdemeanor crime must be alleged and proved within the more numerous elements of the felony. To discuss your felony or misdemeanor charge and find out how you can reduce your felony charge contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately after your arrest.
If you have committed a misdemeanor, the chances are good that it will be on your record for life. Courts rarely expunge a misdemeanor record, or issue a pardon, without extremely good cause. The best way to avoid having a record is to not commit the misdemeanor in the first place. Otherwise, except in very select instances, the offense will be part of the public record and accessible by any individual or organization that wishes to check your background.
Sealing or Expunging Criminal Records in Florida
In order to begin the process of having a record expunged or sealed, the individual must first submit an application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to determine his or her eligibility. If the FDLE determines that the individual is eligible, he or she will receive a certificate of eligibility.
After the individual receives a certificate of eligibility, he or she must file a petition to the court requesting to have their record sealed or expunged. The petition must include:
- The certificate of eligibility
- A sworn statement, attesting that the offender has never been adjudicated guilty of any offense listed under Fla. Stat. § 943.051(3)(b)
- A sworn statement saying the offender has not had his or her criminal record previously sealed or expunged
- A sworn statement that states the offender is eligible to have his or her record expunged
Once the petition has been filed, it is up to the court to determine whether or not the offender’s criminal record will be sealed or expunged.
Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine
Hire Stine Or Do Time
If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony criminal charge anywhere in Palm Beach County or surrounding areas contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A. immediately after your arrest.
Andrew Stine is a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in West Palm Beach with over a decade of experience helping men and women in tough situations. When you retain Andrew D. Stine, P.A., you not only retain a nationally-recognized criminal defense lawyer, you retail a passionate criminal defense team who has years of experience working together in practically every kind of criminal case. This includes cases of DUI, drug crimes, fraud, traffic offenses, violent crimes, and others throughout Palm Beach County, FL.
Your first consultation with Andrew D. Stine, P.A. is free, so call 561.880.4300 today and schedule yours.