MISDEMEANORS UNDER FLORIDA LAW
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In Florida, the jurisdiction to hear misdemeanor cases is vested in the County Courts. Until the early 1970s, Florida had a judicial system that included Justice of the Peace Courts, Municipal Courts, County Courts of Record, Criminal Court of Record, and various other courts in the state court system. With the revision of Article V of the Florida Constitution, a unified court system was created. In this scheme of things, the County Court has jurisdiction over both non-criminal and criminal traffic and all other misdemeanors.
Crimes that are not felonies are misdemeanors. Common-Law crimes that are not punishable by a year or longer in state prison are handled as misdemeanors.
Misdemeanors come in three basic categories:
- 1st-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in the County Jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- 2nd-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in the County Jail and a fine of up to $500.
- Special designation misdemeanors are misdemeanor offenses for which the Legislature has established a penalty between the two categories above.
- An example is reckless driving that is punishable by up to 90 days in jail.
- City and County Ordinance violations are ordinarily treated as 2nd-degree misdemeanors.
RIGHT TO JURY TRIAL
The right of an accused to a jury trial under the 6th Amendment of the US Constitution and the Florida Declaration of Rights is secure for any misdemeanor offense fro which jail may be imposed. Where the presiding judge is willing to execute a certification before a trial that even in the event of a conviction, the Court will not impose any jail sentence (and that no jail could be imposed for a violation of any probation that might be imposed), then the right to a jury trial is lost. While misdemeanor offenses are not as serious as felony offenses, and the sentencing risk is less, the defense of these cases should nevertheless be taken seriously. A misdemeanor drug offense is a drug offense nevertheless and it carries a certain stigma. While a petit theft case is a misdemeanor, the consequences of conviction so to be forever labeled “a thief.” While several sex-related offenses are misdemeanors, nobody wants to have a permanent record suggesting they are dangerous or perverted. Some misdemeanor cases have enhanced penalty provisions such that subsequent offenses can be charged as felonies.
Using the link buttons on the navigation bar above, we have provided statutes and other information on some of the more common misdemeanors.
Contact A Seminole County Misdemeanors Attorney
Before ever entering a plea to any offense, misdemeanor or not, you should first call one of our two locations at (407) 831-1956 or (352) 742-9090, for a prompt and free consultation with an experienced Central Florida criminal defense attorney at The Defense Group. We are available 24 hours a day for your emergency needs, and appointments can be arranged for nights or weekends if necessary.