120 S. Olive Ave., Suite 402
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Misdemeanor Crimes, Felony Crimes and Their Differences

aggravated-assault_180x120-150x110Florida laws are clear cut and the penalties for breaking the law are strict. A misdemeanor is any “lesser” criminal act in some common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions (also known as minor, petty or summary offenses) and regulatory offenses. Many misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines.

Misdemeanors can include:

Unlike aggravated assault or aggravated battery, which are considered felonies, simple assault and battery and those crimes that fall under Florida domestic violence laws are considered misdemeanors in Florida. Along with numerous other misdemeanor offenses, these crimes carry penalties of up to one year in jail, one year of probation or a $1,000 fine for first-degree misdemeanors and 60 days in jail for second-degree misdemeanors.

What is considered a felony in Florida?

In general, a felony is considered a serious crime that lands the offender in prison for at least one year. Felonies can be broken down into third-, second- and first-degree felonies, which carry maximum penalties of a five-year prison sentence, a fifteen-year prison sentence or a life sentence, respectively.

9 Differences between Felonies and Misdemeanors

There are actually a lot of differences between felonies and misdemeanors, and sometimes the lines between the two can be blurry. But here are nine basic differences between felonies and misdemeanors. By OnlyLaw

Jail Time

One of the main differences between a felony vs. a misdemeanor, is the amount of jail time possible. Generally, a misdemeanor carries a maximum jail time of up to one year; however, a felony, has a maximum jail sentence of at least one year or more.


Both felonies and misdemeanors can carry fines, but in general felonies can result in greater fines than misdemeanors.

State Laws

Sometimes the only difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the state that you live in. For example, in some states, domestic abuse is considered a misdemeanor (carrying a potential jail sentence of over a year), whereas in other states domestic abuse is classified as a felony (carrying a possible jail sentence of at least one year).

The Type of Jail Time To Be Served

Not only does jail time differ between felonies and misdemeanors, but the place where the sentence is served varies as well—either a county or city jail vs. a state penitentiary or federal prison.

Life Long Restrictions

Misdemeanors carry with them no life-long restrictions. However, if you commit a felony, you will probably face a life-long restriction against buying a gun and (depending on the state you live in) may be denied a hunting or fishing license, and you could lose your right to vote for the rest of your life.

In addition, if you commit a sexual offense, you will most likely be placed on a sex offender registry for the rest of your life which will determine where you can live and work within certain communities.

Three Strikes Laws

Some states have instituted “three strikes” laws, wherein if you commit three felonies over a given period of time, you are given a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole. In most states, misdemeanors do not count against an individual’s three strikes, but in states where three strikes laws are applicable a third felony could land you in prison for a long time.

Aggravating factors

Some crimes can be upgraded or downgraded according to aggravating factors. For example, if you get in a bar fight, you may be charged with misdemeanor assault. However, if a weapon is involved in the attack, like a knife, the crime is automatically upgraded to a felony.


In some cases, the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor charge may be sought depending on the intent of the perpetrator. Prosecution attorneys try to prove intent whilst criminal defense attorneys try to counter their argument.


The last difference between felonies vs. misdemeanors is the sentencing guidelines. In felony cases, an indictment or preliminary trial is held to determine the charges, set bail (if necessary), and more. But because misdemeanors are generally less serious crimes, there are no preliminary hearings. In a misdemeanor case, the defendant simply goes to court and faces a judge where a sentence is given without a jury.


Felony and misdemeanor charges differ greatly from state to state and each region has slightly different laws and guidelines. To find out more about the laws where you live, seek legal counsel.

West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

West Palm Beach lawyer Andrew Stine focuses exclusively on criminal defense cases and has an exceptional track record of results spanning the last ten years. A former public defender and medic for the U.S. Army, Mr. Stine is known for being proactive. He represents his clients aggressively, armed with individual attention and a passionate respect for their rights to due process.
When you are accused of a crime, your freedom, your family, your reputation and your job may be at stake. Be certain of your attorney’s competence, reputation, expertise and experience as a Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.

Share this Article

This entry was posted in Florida Criminal Statutes, Hiring a Defense Lawyer, and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *