Tampa Attorney for Felony Charges in Florida
If you’ve been charged with a felony, it’s imperative that you speak with a Tampa felony 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. Undoubtedly, facing felony charges without a dedicated advocate in your corner can be a daunting and overwhelming experience.
Felony crimes, unlike misdemeanors, are handled by circuit court judges and are punishable by the possibility of more than a year in jail. In Florida, there are five classes of felonies. The law specifies which felony crimes fall under which class. Ultimately, the sentence a defendant receives in a case, can be attributed (to a great extent) to these assigned classes.
The Five Classes of Felonies in Florida
- Capital Felony: A Capital Felony is punishable by death or life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Examples of Capital Felonies include First-Degree Murder, Armed Kidnapping, 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. Some 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. Aggravated Child Abuse is an example of a First-Degree Felony.
- Second-Degree Felony: Second-Degree Felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in the Department of Corrections (prison). Aggravated Battery and Burglary of a Dwelling, or examples.
- Third-Degree Felony: Third-Degree Felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in the Department of Corrections (prison). Examples include Grand Theft, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Resisting Arrest With Violence.
Some Examples of Felonies
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
- Burglary and Robbery
- Dealing in Stolen Property
- Child Abuse
- Drug Possession
- Felony Battery
- Grand Theft
- Sex Crimes
- Florida Statutory Rape
Florida’s Punishment Code (CPC)
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. Of course, this objective formulaic standard produced its own set of problems and disparities. Be that as it may, 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 several different 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, if 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 in prison, 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 lawyer can examine a defendant’s calculated sentence under the CPC for any errors or inaccuracies, and even argue for a downward departure.
In addition to the possibility of imprisonment and fines, felony convictions carry 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 licenses
- 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 Tampa felony lawyer. After your case is resolved, if your attorney is able to avoid a conviction, and provided you have no prior convictions, you can then discuss whether you might be elligble so seal or expunge your felony criminal record.
Contact a Tampa Felony Lawyer
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 lawyer! (813) 532-5057