If this is the first time you are being charged with a misdemeanor, you are probably worried about what may happen to you and whether you may end up going to jail. If so, the Miami criminal defense attorney at Stroleny Law, P. A. wants you to know that being arrested for most misdemeanors in Florida does not mean you will automatically end up in jail. As a matter of fact, almost nobody who is arrested for their first misdemeanor ends up going to jail. When you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney from Stroleny Law, you rarely face prison time, even if this is your second or third misdemeanor charge.
How Do Misdemeanor Cases Get Resolved?
In many cases, misdemeanor cases go to trial either before a judge or a jury. However, most cases find a resolution before going to trial because they get plea bargained or dismissed by the prosecutor or the court.
You may avoid going to trial if you plead guilty or have no contest to the offense. If your case does not end up in a trial, it will proceed to the sentencing phase of the criminal court process.
How Are Misdemeanors Classified in Florida?
Florida classifies misdemeanor offenses in two degrees:
Misdemeanors of the First Degree
These misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of up to one year. First-degree misdemeanors include cyberstalking, battery, and violating a restraining order.
Misdemeanors of the Second Degree
These misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $500 and jail terms of up to 60 days. Some examples of second-degree misdemeanors include prostitution, disorderly intoxication, and petty theft.
You will face enhanced penalties if you are charged with a second or other repetitive misdemeanors. After a fifth or subsequent misdemeanor, the law will consider you to be a habitual misdemeanor offender, and you will face a minimum sentence of six months in jail or residential treatment.
What Happens with a Misdemeanor Charge When There Are Victims?
If you have committed certain offenses against a vulnerable victim, such as a child, an elderly person, or a protected professional, you may land a felony penalty. This is because a first-degree misdemeanor moves up to a third-degree felony in these cases. The enhancements will depend on the crime involved.
How Does Misdemeanor Sentencing Work in Florida?
When it comes to sentencing for misdemeanor cases, judges have broad discretion. This means that although jail time is an option, this is often reserved for offenders who are unremorseful or facing a repeat misdemeanor charge.
When it comes to imposing a sentence for a misdemeanor, the judge will take into account the offender’s past history or how amenable they are to rehabilitation. The judge will also consider whether mental health issues or addiction may have been at the root of the offense.
If you qualify for a pretrial intervention program or community court, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Judges may also hold off on sentencing you to jail and instead place you on probation without any jail time.