Possible Penalties


Definition Of Misdemeanor Versus A Felony

Possible Penalties | There are 2 general categories of crime prosecuted in State Court in Florida: Misdemeanors and Felonies. Misdemeanors are usually handled in County Court, while felonies are resolved in Circuit Court.

Municipal ordinances are technically city “crimes” or “violations” but are resolved in our State Courts as well by the Office of the City Attorney.


A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a year or less in the county jail or county probation. They are resolved in County Court and there are two levels: first degree misdemeanors and second degree misdemeanors.

  1. A first degree misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to a year in the county jail or a year of probation – or any combination of the two so long as the term does not exceed one year – and a maximum fine of $1,000.00.

  2. A second degree misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail or 6 months of probation and a maximum fine of $500.00.


A felony is a crime that is punishable from 5 years state prison or probation all the way up to life imprisonment and even the death penalty (capital). Felonies are resolved in Circuit Court. If you are charged with a felony and a misdemeanor and they both arise from the same incident, they will usually be consolidated and resolved together in Circuit Court.

Felonies are broken down into 5 general categories:

  1. Third degree felony – maximum of 5 years of prison / probation and a $5,000.00 fine.
  2. Second degree felony – maximum of 15 years of prison / probation and a $10,000.00 fine.
  3. First degree felony – maximum of 30 years prison / probation and a $10,000.00 fine.
  4. Life felony – maximum of life in prison and a $15,000.00 fine.
  5. Capital felony – punishable by death.

Municipal Ordinances

A municipal ordinance is a violation of a city ordinance. These are prosecuted by the City Attorney’s Office in State Court. Examples of municipal violations are disorderly conduct, indecent conduct, prostitution, trespassing, urinating or defecating in public, loitering or prowling, and panhandling. You can learn more about the City Attorney on their website, there is a link to the municipal code.

  • Assault, Battery and Battery Domestic Violence
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Driving On a Suspended License
  • Theft Crimes and Shoplifting
  • Burglary, Robbery and Carjacking

Federal Crimes

Federal crimes can be especially daunting because they are handled in the more strict Federal Court System. They are prosecuted by experienced Assistant United States Attorneys and before Federal Judges (who are appointed for life). The penalties at the Federal level are controlled by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which includes in some case minimum/mandatory sentences. If you are charged with a Federal Crime, it is imperative that you speak with a Tampa federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Defenses To Federal Crimes

Many of the same defenses afforded to you in State Court are available to you in Federal Court. For example, there may be a motion to suppress that can get your case thrown out. There may be an issue with the applicable statute of limitations. You will need a Tampa federal criminal lawyer to help you explore these options and more. It is highly advisable to speak with an attorney immediately if you are being questioned by federal agents about your potential involvement in criminal activity. We are federal crime defense attorneys in Bartow, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Haines City, Orlando, and the Greater Tampa Bay area and experienced in dealing with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Sentencing Hearings.

For Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit the In Law We Trust Blog for more information https://inlawwetrust.com/blog/

Did You Know?
Your lawyer cannot disclose what you tell them – even if you confess to a crime. Attorney-client privilege is designed to ensure that you are candid with your lawyer. Under most circumstances, your lawyer cannot tell anyone – a judge, the police, a jury, or your family members – what you tell them in confidence.