Florida (and federal) felonies are punishable by death or prison sentences and can include thousands of dollars in fines. Florida law classifies felony charges in St. Petersburg and throughout the state as “capital” or “life,” or first-, second- or third-degree felonies, the least serious being third degree. Goldman Wetzel has specialized experience in defending suspects who are charged with the following felonies:
- Violent crimes (assault, aggravated assault, domestic violence, robbery and carjacking)
- Murder/manslaughter (including capital charges)
- Sex crimes (including prostitution and those involving underage victims)
- Drug Offenses (simple possession, possession with intent to distribute, and trafficking/manufacturing charges)
- Theft/fraud (including burglary and all computer-related crimes as a result of hacking)
- Illegal weapons possession
- Probation violation
- Juvenile crimes
Florida State Felony Punishments
The following punishments apply to felonies committed and tried in Florida [Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 775.082 & 775.083].
Capital or life felonies are the most serious. Life felonies are punishable by 40 years to life in prison and primarily involves extreme felonies (or combinations of many simultaneous felony counts). Capital felonies bring a possible death sentence or life imprisonment without parole for conviction of crimes such as premeditated murder of government officials such as a law enforcement officer. A fine of up to $15,000 accompanies conviction of either offense.
First-degree felonies are generally punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Grand theft of more than $100,000 or aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer are two examples of this crime.
Second-degree felonies bring penalties of up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Theft of property or money over $20,000, bribery, selling marijuana to a minor, and many aggravated assaults are charged with this crime.
Florida third-degree felonies are punishable by a maximum of five years’ incarceration in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Auto theft, carrying a handgun without a permit, and many frauds or other white-collar crimes can be charged as third-degree felonies.
Florida Penalty Enhancements
Felony punishments allow for the “folding in” of other criminal charges committed along with the primary offense (or the “top count”) to bring greater punishment. So if – for example – a burglary suspect (normally a third-degree felony) carried a gun when committing the crime, the gun “enhancement” makes it a second-degree felony with a longer prison sentence and higher fine.
Those who face felony charges in St. Petersburg who previously have been convicted of other felony charges likely will serve closer to the maximum prison sentence. And if they have two prior felony convictions, the third exposes them to a “three strikes and you’re out” penalty enhancement, which, in some cases, can exceed the statutory penalty for the crime if it was a first offense [Fla. Stat. Ann. § 775.084].
Florida Statutes of Limitations and Federal Felonies
If the state fails to bring a case within a certain amount of time, it can never prosecute that suspect for a crime. Violent offenses generally have longer statutes of limitations. And with the advances in forensic sciences, special exceptions can extend the statute, especially if DNA evidence is essential to the state’s case. Other exceptions also could extend the statutes. So ask your lawyer if any may apply. Below are Florida’s felony statutes of limitations:
- None for capital felony, life felony or felony that results in death
- Four years for first-degree felonies
- Three years for all other felonies
Virtually all state felony statutes have comparable federal laws that generally parallel those of Florida. But the Feds don’t usually take over a case unless there are serious underlying felonies such as enterprise corruption (RICO), the crimes cross state lines or national borders, or the state penalty is significantly less than the commensurate federal conviction. Overall, federal sentences and fines are more severe than Florida’s, and if found guilty, perpetrators must – by statute – pay the U.S. government for the entire cost of the trial that convicted them.
If you face felony charges in St. Petersburg, Goldman Wetzel’s experienced defense team offers a complimentary review of your case. Contact us at 727-828-3900 or fill out our online contact form.