The Morris Firm Takes Misdemeanor Charges Seriously
Although a misdemeanor offense is not as serious as a felony, a conviction can still result in serious penalties like a lengthy jail sentence and expensive fines. In addition, having a conviction on your criminal record can follow you for the rest of your life, making it extremely tough to find employment, apply for college, and take advantage of other opportunities in life. That is why it is imperative to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to help you avoid serious criminal penalties.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a misdemeanor offense, do not hesitate to hire The Morris Firm to take the case. With thousands of cases handled, our Pensacola misdemeanor defense attorney can guide you through the intricacies of the criminal justice system while protecting your rights, reputation, and freedom throughout the process.
Contact us today at (850) 503-2626 to schedule a case review.
Why You Need A Lawyer for Your Misdemeanor Offense
Although misdemeanor charges are less serious than those for felony crimes, it would be a mistake to not take any misdemeanor charge seriously. Misdemeanor charges often carry fines as well as jail time. They will go on your record and can prevent you from obtaining employment, renting an apartment, or being accepted for certain educational opportunities.
While it is technically possible to represent yourself in court, this is very often a bad idea. A good lawyer understands the law and can protect your rights. They can perform a thorough investigation of your arrest, collecting any exculpatory evidence and witness statements that may exonerate you.
Why You Should Hire The Morris Firm For Your Defense
The Morris Firm has provided top-quality legal representation to clients in Pensacola. When you hire our firm, your success becomes our top priority. We take pride in our ability to provide an aggressive and personalized defense to every client whose case we take on. We understand the stress and difficulty a misdemeanor charge can add to your life. But you don’t have to face it alone. Schedule a confidential consultation with us to review your options.
Misdemeanor Crimes and Penalties
Though less severe than felonies, misdemeanor crimes can still be punished with hefty fines and jail time. Misdemeanors are further broken down into two categories: first-degree and second-degree misdemeanors. In general, first-degree misdemeanors have longer terms of imprisonment and higher fines than second-degree offenses.
Some second-degree misdemeanors include:
- Petit (“petty”) theft of property valued at less than $100/first offense
- Simple assault
- Criminal mischief with damage $200 or less
- No valid driver’s license
- Disorderly intoxication
Some first-degree misdemeanors include:
- Petty theft of property valued at $100 or more but less than $300/second offense
- Ticket scalping
- Indecent exposure
- Simple battery
- Possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams)
- Domestic violence
- Criminal mischief with damage greater than $200 but less than $1,000
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
There are also some misdemeanor offenses that carry a maximum period of incarceration exceeding that of a second-degree misdemeanor but less than that of a first-degree misdemeanor, such as DUI (driving under the influence) and BUI (boating under the influence) first offense and reckless driving.
The consequences of a misdemeanor range in severity.
Generally, a conviction of a first-degree misdemeanor can lead to:
- A term of imprisonment of no more than one
- A fine of no more than $1,000
Generally, a conviction of a second-degree misdemeanor can lead to:
- A term of imprisonment of no more than 60 days
- A fine of no more than $500
Even these penalties, though less harsh than felony penalties, can be a huge burden on you and your family. Allow The Morris Firm to represent you, so that you can seek a favorable resolution to your case.
Misdemeanors And Your Criminal Record
Just because misdemeanors are treated less seriously than felonies does not mean they won’t cause problems for your permanent record. A conviction will follow you for life, whether it is for a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Employers will be able to learn about your prior conviction by running a background check when you apply for a job. If you were arrested but you were not convicted, or the charges were dismissed, you may qualify to have the record expunged or sealed. In order to qualify, you may not have had a record expunged or sealed in the past.
The ultimate goal of the juvenile justice system in Florida is rehabilitation, so that the young person can become a productive member of society. A juvenile record is usually automatically expunged when a minor reaches 21 years of age, or when they reach 26 if they are a habitual offender or were committed to a correctional facility. It is possible to apply to have a juvenile record expunged earlier under certain conditions if the subject hasn’t been charged with or convicted of any offense within the last five years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Misdemeanors
If you’ve been arrested on a misdemeanor charge, chances are you have a lot of questions about your case. Your attorney is the most reliable person to go to for information about your own case, but here are a few answers to common questions about misdemeanors.
Is driving under the influence considered a misdemeanor or a felony?
The severity of a DUI charge will depend on whether the driver is a repeat offender, and whether the driver’s actions while intoxicated caused bodily harm or death. If the driver has been convicted of fewer than four DUIs, or fewer than three in the last ten years, and nobody was injured or killed, a DUI is typically considered a misdemeanor. Failing to render aid after a DUI accident, as in a hit-and-run, would increase the charge to a felony.
What is simple assault, and how does it differ from simple battery?
Simple assault is a verbal or physical threat of violence by a person who is capable of carrying out that threat, which causes the victim to fear for their safety. No physical violence is required for a charge of simple assault. Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Florida Statute 784.03 defines simple battery as any actual and intentional striking of another person against their will, or intentionally causing bodily harm to another person. This offense is a first-degree misdemeanor unless there are aggravating factors like domestic violence, use of a weapon, or serious bodily harm, which would increase the seriousness of the charge. To be found guilty of this charge, the defendant must have the intent to strike the person. Accidental touching doesn’t count. Indirect contact by throwing an object may count, however, if it otherwise satisfies the definition of battery.
When is drug possession considered a misdemeanor?
In Florida, many drug possession charges are filed as felonies. One exception is possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, which is usually considered a misdemeanor. Possession of drug paraphernalia, even without the presence of any drugs, is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
When is a traffic offense considered a misdemeanor?
A driver who runs a red light, breaks the speed limit, or commits some other moving violation is usually given a ticket and required to pay a fine. Some more serious offenses are considered criminal traffic violations and may result in misdemeanor or even felony charges, as well as larger fines and possibly jail time. Some of these offenses are:
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence
- No valid registration
- Driving while license suspended
- Expired vehicle registration
- Racing on a highway
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- No valid driver’s license
Criminal traffic violations may result in license suspension or immediate arrest.
Is there a statute of limitations on misdemeanors in Florida?
Under Florida Statute 775.15, a person must be prosecuted for a first-degree misdemeanor within two years of committing the crime. Prosecution for a second-degree misdemeanor must occur within one year of committing the crime.
Schedule a Consultation Today
At The Morris Firm, we provide all our clients with strong and personalized legal solutions. Since an arrest can occur at any time, our Pensacola misdemeanor defense attorney is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. If you’ve been arrested and/or charged with a misdemeanor offense, you need an attorney who understands Florida defense tactics and the rights of the accused.
Don’t allow your future to be jeopardized for a mistake or bad fortune. Call (850) 503-2626 to discuss your case today.