What Is The Difference Between a Felony and A Misdemeanor in Florida?

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All crimes fall into two classifications – misdemeanors and felonies. Do you know the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in Florida?  Misdemeanors are lesser crimes that are punishable by less than a year of incarceration handled in county court and felonies are more extreme crimes punishable by more than a year of incarceration handled in circuit court.


Both crimes are handled by the courts in similar manners.  The accused is provided with an initial reading of the charges at either a first appearance or an arraignment.  At the arraignment, the accused must respond to the charges by entering a plea with the court. The accused may deny the charges with a plea of not guilty which results in setting either a Pre-Trial Conference hearing or an actual trial.  The other option the accused has is they can decline to fight the charges and receive a sentence with a plea of guilty or no contest.


Misdemeanors fall into two classifications, first or second degree.  Second degree misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to sixty days in jail and a fine of up to $500.00.  First degree misdemeanors are more severe crimes and punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00.


In Florida, misdemeanors include:

First Degree Second Degree
  • Domestic Battery
  • Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana
  • Petit theft of property less than $300..00 but more than $100.00
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Petit theft of property less than $100.00
  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol


Felonies are more extreme crimes and are separated into multiple categories.  Capital felonies are punishable by the death penalty. Life felonies are crimes punishable by imprisonment for life.  First degree felonies punishable by up to thirty years in prison. Second degree felonies are crimes punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  Lastly, third degree felonies are punishable by up five years in prison. While some felonies are sentenced to time in a county jail these sentences are generally served in a state correctional facility.  This is an important distinction as serving time in the local county jail allows the inmates family and friends to have easier access for visits. When a defendant is sentenced to time with the Department of Corrections, he or she serves it at whichever facility the Department deems appropriate which could be anywhere in the state.


In Florida, felonies include:

  • Grand theft of property of over $300.00
  • Possession of any street drug other than Marijuana
  • Possession of controlled substances including those prescribed by a physician
  • Robbery
  • Sexual battery
  • Carjacking
  • Kidnapping
  • Homicide
  • Aggravated Battery



To successfully resolve any of these charges, it is crucial you speak with an attorney immediately.  An attorney is almost the only person you can discuss these situations without it being held against you later on.  Your friends and family may be helpful during this time but remember that any of them could be forced to testify against you in court.  The only person you can talk to freely is an attorney. If you need help or representation right now, do not hesitate to contact us.