Florida misdemeanors are not normally viewed as serious crimes, though more serious versions of many misdemeanors can be charged as felonies. They are punishable by up to a year in county jail and fines that generally do not exceed $1,000. Misdemeanors are charged in either the first or second degree. Most misdemeanor charges in St. Petersburg can result in probation, especially if the suspect is represented by a capable defense attorney and has a clean criminal record.
The following is a list of misdemeanor offenses with which the attorneys at Goldman Wetzel have experience defending suspects charged with a crime.
- Disorderly conduct
- Disorderly intoxication
- Indecent exposure
- Rape/sexual battery
- Juvenile crimes, including possession of alcohol by a minor
- Probation violation
- Violation of restraining order
- Outstanding warrants
- Traffic infractions
- Driving with a Suspended driver’s license
First-degree misdemeanors are the most serious in Florida, punishable by jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to $1,000 [Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 775.082, 775.083]. A first offense of theft of property (petit theft) valued between $100 and $300 is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. But if the amount is more than $300, it’s a second-degree felony. Other first-degree misdemeanors include:
- Simple assault
- Simple trespass
- Marijuana possession (less than 20 grams)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Prostitution (pimping and pandering)
- Reckless driving and DUI/DWI
- Driving on a suspended license (second offense)
- Driving without a valid driver’s license
- Indecent exposure
- Domestic violence (of a spouse, first offense)
These charges are less threatening than first-degree misdemeanors. Convictions usually involve a jail term of no more than 60 days and up to a $500 fine [Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 775.081, 775.082, 775.083]. More common second-degree misdemeanors include criminal mischief (damage of less than $200), disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication and loitering.
Statute of Limitations, Probation and Misdemeanor Criminal Records
For all misdemeanors in Florida, the statute of limitations is one or two years from the date the crime was committed.
The judge can suspend a guilty defendant’s misdemeanor jail sentence instead of probation. The discretionary conditions the judge sets forth can include community service, curfews, restitution, no contact with the victim, or appropriate counseling for substance abuse or anger issues — or all of these options, depending on the facts of the case and the charges. Those placed on probation typically still have to pay fines in full before being released from the program. They also must pay any fees associated with their probation and attend any programs in which they are ordered to participate.
Many who face misdemeanor charges in St. Petersburg don’t normally get into trouble, and the thought of having a criminal record is both embarrassing and disturbing. But criminal records follow them around for years to come and turn personal and professional lives inside out.
Luckily, it is possible to have your arrest record cleared at a later date by either sealing or expunging the misdemeanor conviction. However, the way your case is handled during your trial often affects your ability to remove the offense from your criminal record once you become eligible. So having an experienced attorney to defend you, particularly when it’s time to seal/expunge, makes both processes go much more smoothly.
Most often, even if a person is eligible for withholding of adjudication (conviction) for first-offense misdemeanors, some judges will convict them anyway, just because they have no understanding of the procedural “buttons” to push that an experienced defense attorney would, which is another reason to hire an experienced criminal attorney for any criminal charge.
The attorneys at Goldman Wetzel will be happy to give you a free evaluation of your case if you face misdemeanor charges in St. Petersburg. Call us at 727-828-3900 or contact us online. Consider an effective defense an investment in saved money, time and headaches down the road.