Gainesville Misdemeanor Defense Lawyer
Under Florida law, certain crimes are categorized as less serious than felony offenses and are distinguished by the severity of punishment available to the judge upon sentencing. The most severe punishment under Florida law for a 1st degree misdemeanor is a year incarceration in the county jail or up to a year of supervised probation, or some combination thereof, not to exceed one year. Examples of first degree misdemeanors are battery, resisting arrest without violence, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, or possession of drug paraphernalia for storage.
Second degree misdemeanors are less severely punished with a maximum sentence of 60 days incarceration, and/or up to six months supervised probation. Some second degree offenses can be enhanced to extend the probationary period to one year, when a finding is made that alcohol was involved in the commission of the offense. Disorderly conduct, first offense petit theft, and simple assault, are all second degree misdemeanors.
Some offenses may be punished more severely if a person has prior convictions for the same offense. For example, a second petit theft becomes a first degree misdemeanor, a third becomes a felony. A first conviction for driving while license suspended or revoked is a second degree misdemeanor, a second conviction is a first degree misdemeanor, and a third is punishable as a felony. Many crimes fall into this “enhancement” scheme, and the withholding of adjudication on prior offenses may or may not count as convictions depending on the particular crime.
A third category of crimes have hybrid penalties which are specific to their enacting statute. For example a first offense DUI is subject to 180 days incarceration, and one year probation. A first offense reckless driving is subject to 90 days incarceration and 6 months probation, unless alcohol is involved. Additionally, counties and cities may have ordinances subject to criminal sanctions punishable by up to 60 days in jail, or 6 months probation. Some examples are "dog running at large", or possession in public of an open container of alcohol.
Outside of the direct criminal consequences of some misdemeanor offenses are the collateral consequences a conviction may have on an individual’s driver’s license regardless of severity of punishment on the criminal offense. Conviction on any drug possession offense, even a misdemeanor marijuana charge, results in the Department of Motor Vehicles’ revocation of a person’s privilege to drive for two years. This is independent and separate from any action of the court. Driving on a suspended license, in combination with prior convictions or other traffic offenses, can result in a five year driver’s license suspension.
GAINESVILLE MISDEMEANOR DEFENSE ATTORNEY
An experienced Gainesville misdemeanor criminal defense lawyer can help you to navigate not only the question of guilt or innocence, but also advise you on the long term consequences of penalties, enhancements, and multiple convictions. In some case, a person charged with a misdemeanor offense may be eligible to participate in a deferred prosecution program that will result in the charges being dismissed. See Understanding the Deferred Prosecution Alternative. Sometimes negotiations can result in a change of charge that would not have the severe impact of a conviction on an initial charge. Contact DeThomasis and Buchanan to ensure the assistance of an experienced misdemeanor criminal defense attorney.