Tampa Felony Defense Lawyer
If you've been charged with a felony, it's imperative that you speak with a Tampa felony defense lawyer right away. Felony crimes are the most complicated and serious offenses in Florida. Typically, the government trains and hones its most experienced and accomplished prosecutors to handle such cases. Felony crimes, unlike misdemeanors, are handled by circuit court judges and are punishable by the possibility of more than a year in jail. Felonies are divided as follows:
- Capital Felony: A Capital Felony is punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. These include first-degree murder, and high treason.
- Life Felony: A life felony is punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole, or probation for the remainder of your life, and a $15,000 fine. Examples include murder, rape, and human trafficking.
- First-Degree Felony: First-degree felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in the Department of Corrections (prison) and in some instances, by life in prison.
- Second-Degree Felony: Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in the Department of Corrections (prison).
- Third-Degree Felony: Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in the Department of Corrections (prison).
Some Examples of Felonies
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
- Dealing in Stolen Property
- Child Abuse
- Drug Possession
- Felony Battery
- Grand Theft
- Resisting Arrest
- Sex Crimes
Florida's Punishment Code (CPC)
In an attempt to achieve uniform sentencing throughout Florida, the Florida Punishment Code (CPC) was devised by the Supreme Court in the early 1980’s. It was originally patterned after the federal system. Instead of giving individual judges unfettered discretion in fashioning a sentence, the Supreme Court sought to implement an objective and uniform method of calculating a sentence. It was thought that this would help prevent disparities in sentencing and promote justice. Accordingly, offenses are now sentenced pursuant to the CPC.
Calculating Sentences Under the CPC
Under the CPC, a felony is assigned a numerical value based on a ranking system set by the Florida legislature. If you score less than 44 points, the judge is not required to sentence you to prison, but may still do so. You can think of the CPC as a calculator, that takes in a bunch of numbers, like offense level, prior number of arrests, and injury to victim (if any), and then spits out a number. That number, is typically the minimum prison sentence (in months) that a defendant must serve, if he is convicted or otherwise found guilty.
So for example, when John Doe gets arrested and charged with Battery on a Pregnant Female, and we hear the prosecutor tell the judge in open court, that Mr. Doe scores 18.5 months in the Department of Corrections, it means that 18.5 months is his minimum sentence. In other words if Mr. Doe is found guilty (or otherwise convicted) either by a plea to the court, or by a jury after trial, the court must sentence him to at least 18.5 months, absent a downward departure. Keep in mind, that’s just the minimum, the court can certainly sentence him up to the statutory maximum.
A Tampa felony defense lawyer can examine a defendant's calculated sentence under the CPC for any errors or inaccuracies, and even argue for a downward departure.
"Felony crimes, unlike misdemeanors, are handled by circuit court judges"
In addition to the possibility of imprisonment, a felony conviction carries a number of additional consequences:
- Unable to rent an apartment
- Ineligible for federal or state financial aid
- Inability to find and/or hold employment
- Loss of Civil Rights
- Ineligible to obtain State License
- Ineligible to hold public office
Make no mistake, a felony conviction has devastating consequences and will severely limit your employment opportunities, your ability to obtain suitable housing, your ability to travel, and your ability to maintain good credit and secure loans—in addition to the loss of your civil rights. If you have been charged with a felony, it is therefore imperative that you seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Law Office of William B. Wynne, P.L.L.C., represents clients in all criminal matters, including felony cases. Consultations are free of charge, and we offer payment plans to those who qualify. Call today to speak with a Tampa felony defense lawyer! Free Consultations. (813) 532-5057