Tampa Misdemeanor Lawyer

Misdemeanor Offenses

Understanding Misdemeanors in Florida

If you or someone you love is facing misdemeanor charges in Florida, consulting a Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer should be your first step. Though misdemeanors are considered less serious than felony offenses, they can still have a substantial impact on your life, from your career to your personal freedoms.

Under Florida law, a misdemeanor is defined as “any criminal offense that is punishable under the laws of this state, or that would be punishable if committed in this state, by a term of imprisonment in a county correctional facility, except an extended term, not in excess of 1 year.” § 775.08(2), Fla. Stat. (2022).

Misdemeanors in Florida are dealt with at the county court level and can result in penalties like fines, probation, and/or imprisonment in the county jail. Unlike felony cases, the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure generally do not permit depositions in misdemeanor cases without a showing of good cause. Additionally, misdemeanor offenses are not subject to the Florida Punishment Code or sentencing guidelines.

Misdemeanor Offenses: A Closer Look

Misdemeanors in Florida are categorized into two types: 1st-degree misdemeanors and 2nd-degree misdemeanors. § 775.081(2), Fla. Stat. (2022). A 1st-degree misdemeanor can lead to a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. A 2nd-degree misdemeanor, on the other hand, could result in a jail term of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500.

The scope of offenses classified as misdemeanors is extensive, encompassing, among others, the following:

Small Crimes with Big Consequences

Don’t underestimate the severity of misdemeanor offenses. While misdemeanor convictions in Florida don’t carry the loss of civil rights—such as the right to vote or own firearms—a misdemeanor conviction is far from inconsequential; it will appear on your criminal record and can significantly affect various aspects of your life.

Employment prospects can be narrowed, as many employers conduct background checks. Securing housing may become more complicated, given that landlords also often look into criminal histories. Gaining admission to a university can become a hurdle, and you might see a hike in certain insurance premiums. Additionally, for non-U.S. citizens, some misdemeanor convictions can have dire consequences, including the possibility of deportation.

Misdemeanor Offenses and Expungement and Sealing

If you find yourself facing misdemeanor charges, consulting with an experienced Tampa misdemeanor lawyer isn’t just advisable—it’s imperative. The legal choices you make in resolving your misdemeanor case can directly impact your future options for expunging or sealing your criminal record. A qualified attorney can guide you through the complexities of the legal system, defending your rights and strategically managing your case to preserve your eligibility for future expungement or sealing.

If your case does not result in an outright dismissal of the charges, your attorney has other avenues to help preserve your eligibility for expunging or sealing your record. For example, a DUI charge, which cannot be sealed even if adjudication is withheld, could potentially be amended to a reckless driving charge with a withhold of adjudication, thereby becoming eligible for sealing. Similarly, a domestic battery charge, which also can’t be sealed regardless of adjudication, could be amended to a simple battery with a withhold of adjudication, making it sealable down the line. It’s a strategic approach aimed not only at resolving your current case favorably but also keeping future options open.

Expunging or sealing a record involves complex legal procedures that essentially make your criminal record inaccessible to the public. While the detailed eligibility criteria for these options are beyond the scope of this article, know that by working with a seasoned Tampa misdemeanor lawyer, you are not just defending your present charges but also preserving the possibility of a future unburdened by a criminal record.

Choosing a Tampa Misdemeanor Lawyer

Choosing the right lawyer for your misdemeanor case is crucial. Remember, there’s no such thing as the “best Tampa attorney for misdemeanor.” The right attorney for you is the one who understands your case and whom you feel comfortable with.

As a Tampa Misdemeanor Lawyer, William B. Wynne offers free consultations for those facing misdemeanor charges. Don’t gamble with your future—contact us today at 813-532-5057.

Tampa Misdemeanor Lawyer

Florida Misdemeanors: Frequent Questions

Dealing with misdemeanor charges can be a daunting and bewildering ordeal, especially if you’ve never encountered the legal system before. To help ease your apprehensions, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.

1. What are 1st and 2nd degree misdemeanors?

A 1st-degree misdemeanor can result in a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. A 2nd-degree misdemeanor can result in a jail term of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500.

2. What types of crimes are misdemeanors in Florida?

Offenses like Petit Theft, DUI, and Simple Assault, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia are considered misdemeanors in Florida.

3. What happens after I get arrested?

In Florida, after being charged with a misdemeanor, you could either be arrested or given a notice to appear in court at law enforcement’s discretion. Being arrested would involve booking and detention until you can post bail or appear before a judge. A notice to appear serves as a written order to attend future court proceedings without being taken into custody. This is in contrast to felony charges, where an arrest is generally mandatory. Regardless of how you are charged, it is crucial to consult a Tampa misdemeanor lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights and options.

4. Do I need a lawyer for a misdemeanor?

While you technically have the option to represent yourself, navigating the legal system can be complex and stressful. Having a qualified attorney not only helps you assert a strong defense and negotiate potential plea deals but also ensures that you take steps that could allow for the expunging or sealing of your record in the future.

5. How do misdemeanor plea deals work?

A plea deal is a negotiated agreement between the defense and the prosecution on the terms of the sentence, which the court usually—but not always—accepts. Contrary to common perception, a plea deal doesn’t always mean pleading to a lesser charge or receiving a reduced sentence. Instead, it’s a mutually agreed-upon outcome that is generally considered to be more favorable for the defendant than the estimated result of going to trial and losing. This provides an incentive for the defendant to accept the plea. A skilled lawyer can negotiate these terms for you.

6. Will a misdemeanor go on my record?

Once you are arrested, a criminal record is created, and it’s permanent regardless of whether the charges are dropped, dismissed, or if you’re found guilty. The only way to remove this record is through the legal processes of expungement or sealing, which are not automatic. These processes must be initiated by the defendant and can be complex and time-consuming. It’s essential to consult a Tampa misdemeanor lawyer to understand your eligibility and guide you through the necessary steps to potentially remove this record.

7. Can a misdemeanor be expunged or sealed?

It depends on the outcome of the case. Some misdemeanors can be expunged or sealed, but eligibility criteria must be met. Factors like a conviction or a withhold of adjudication on certain ineligible offenses could disqualify your case. For a more comprehensive explanation, consult our Expungement and Sealing Services page or read our detailed blog article on the topic.

8. Will a misdemeanor affect my job prospects?

Many employers conduct background checks, and a misdemeanor could potentially limit your job opportunities. It’s worth noting that even dismissed cases that haven’t been expunged or sealed could negatively affect your employability, as some employers may not differentiate between dismissed and convicted cases.

9. Must I disclose my misdemeanor when applying for a job?

Unless your criminal record has been expunged or sealed, you are generally required to disclose it when asked by a prospective employer. Failing to disclose can result in termination if discovered later. Even expunged or sealed records may have to be disclosed under certain circumstances. For a deeper understanding of these complexities, consult a legal expert or see our detailed guide on expungement and sealing in Florida.

10. Can a misdemeanor affect my ability to rent a home?

Some landlords conduct criminal background checks and may hesitate to rent to someone with a criminal record, including misdemeanors. Having a misdemeanor on your record could restrict your housing options, especially in competitive rental markets where landlords have multiple applicants to choose from.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right legal representation is vital for your future. Misdemeanors may not be as severe as felonies, but their impact can be long-lasting. William B. Wynne offers free consultations for those facing misdemeanor charges. Don’t leave your future to chance—reach out to us today at 813-532-5057 to schedule your free consultation.