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Experienced Criminal Defense Law Firm in Sarasota and Manatee County

If you’ve been charged with a felony, then you may be wondering whether you can get it downgraded to a misdemeanor — after all, a misdemeanor carries substantially reduced penalties.

Our criminal defense law firm can help.

Here at Fowler Law Group, an experienced Bradenton or Sarasota criminal defense attorney can provide the assistance you need to navigate the challenges of a criminal prosecution and downgrade your felony offense.

Curious about how it all works?  Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

What’s the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in Florida?

Misdemeanor Offenses

In Florida, misdemeanor offenses are less serious than felony offenses, and are associated with reduced penalties.

Misdemeanor offenses are defined as crimes punishable by up to a year imprisonment.  They include, but are not limited to:

  • Simple battery
  • Domestic violence
  • Petty theft
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespassing
  • DUI
  • Vandalism
  • Cruelty to animals
  • And more

Though misdemeanors may involve a term of imprisonment and monetary fines, these tend to be quite low in comparison to felony offenses.  Further, with respect to misdemeanors, trial court judges have a great deal of leeway to modify the sentence and impose probation or an alternative punishment (i.e., diversionary programs).

Misdemeanors are classified into two categories in Florida: first-degree and second-degree.

First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year imprisonment (or one year of probation) and up to $1,000 in monetary fines.  Second-degree misdemeanors, on the other hand, are punishable by up to two months imprisonment (or six months of probation) and up to $500 in monetary fines.

Simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, for example, while disorderly conduct is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor crimes are also associated with fewer long-term, post-punishment consequences.  Critically — unlike felony convictions — misdemeanor convictions cannot lead to the relinquishment of gun ownership and voting privileges.  The misdemeanor offender can also tell employers that they have not “committed a felony” and thereby avoid the workforce challenges encountered by felony offenders.

Felony Crimes

Felony offenses are serious, and encompass penalties ranging from one year of imprisonment to life imprisonment (and death penalty).  As noted above, a felony offense may lead to the relinquishment of various rights and privileges, difficulties in custody disputes, and mandatory reporting requirements in the employment context.

Quite simply: felony convictions have an earth-shattering impact in the long-term.

Felony offenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Assault
  • Aggravated battery
  • Sexual battery
  • Grand theft
  • Robbery
  • Incest
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Stalking
  • Drug distribution
  • And more

Felonies — like misdemeanors — can be separated into degree categories that acknowledge the variable severity of such offenses.  These degree categories include: capital/life, first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree.

Capital felonies are punishable by death penalty, or by a term of life imprisonment (without parole), and fines of up to $15,000.  Murder is a capital felony.

First-degree felonies are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to three decades and fines of up to $10,000.  Aggravated battery of a police officer would be considered a first-degree felony.

Second-degree felonies are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years and fines of up to $10,000, while third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $5,000.  Third-degree felonies are a broad category of offenses and include grand theft auto and robbery.

How a Criminal Defense Law Firm Can Help Reduce a Felony Offense

Depending on the facts of the case, a skilled attorney can “downgrade” an offense to a lower degree category (or even downgrade a felony to a misdemeanor), thus reducing the punishment significantly.

There are a number of ways through which an attorney can attempt to downgrade the criminal offense and minimize the punishment:

    • Demonstrating that the defendant lacked the requisite intent (i.e., distribution of marijuana downgraded to possession)
    • Demonstrating a lack of aggravating factors or enhancements (i.e., battery downgraded to misdemeanor battery due to no serious bodily injuries).
    • Identifying mistakes by investigating law enforcement officers
    • Negotiating a plea bargain deal with the prosecution
    • And more

Contact Our Sarasota or Bradenton Office to Let Our Experienced Criminal Defense Law Firm Fight for You

Here at Fowler Law Group, our attorneys have decades of experience representing the interests of criminal defendants in challenging litigation.

We understand just how overwhelming and stressful it can be to go through a prosecution and are committed to securing a positive outcome.  In doing so, we work with the client to develop a thorough understanding of the offense at-issue and the surrounding circumstances — this gives us the insight we need to execute a winning case strategy.

Ready to speak to an experienced Bradenton or  Sarasota criminal defense attorney at Fowler Law Group about your case?

Call us at 941-404-8919 or submit an online case evaluation form to schedule an initial consultation with a Bradenton criminal defense attorney at our firm today.

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Fowler Law Group proudly represents the citizens of Sarasota and Manatee Counties as well as the surrounding Tampa Bay area. Our experienced team will help guide you through the judicial process and answer all of your questions with honesty and integrity. We understand the important nature of your call, and we will strive to return all calls within 24 hours. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling us at 941-404-8909.