Florida criminal law attorneys represent clients who have been charged with committing one or more crimes, typically divided into two classes. These criminal defense attorneys advocate for their clients’ rights at every stage in the legal process, from an arrest to a bond hearing to the actual trial and any resulting appeals. Florida criminal law attorneys can either be hired privately or, in cases where defendants cannot afford to hire one directly, appointed by the government. Court-appointed defense attorneys are called public defenders.
Florida criminal offenses are classified into two broad categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious in nature than felonies. County courts have original jurisdiction of most misdemeanor cases. Circuit courts, on the other hand, have jurisdiction over all felonies and any misdemeanors arising out of the same circumstances as a felony which is also charged. As Florida criminal law attorneys can attest, the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence apply evenly to both criminal offense categories.
The term “misdemeanor” refers to any criminal offense punishable under Florida state law, or that would be punishable if committed in Florida, by a term of imprisonment in a county correctional facility not in excess of one year (except for extended terms). However, “misdemeanor” does not mean a conviction for any noncriminal traffic violation under chapter 316, F.S. or any municipal or county ordinance. While misdemeanors are less severe than felonies and typically involve lighter sentences, it’s still a good idea to have a good Florida criminal law attorney on your side.
The term “felony” refers to any criminal offense punishable under Florida state law, or that would be punishable if committed in Florida, by death or imprisonment in the state penitentiary. “State penitentiary” means any of the state correctional facilities. Individuals must be imprisoned in the state penitentiary for each sentence which, other than extended terms, exceeds one year in length. All felonies are punishable by incarceration in state prison, which means it is critical to hire a skilled, experienced Florida criminal law attorney to give you the best possible legal representation during your case.
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