What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
There are two major distinctions in types of crimes in Florida. Misdemeanors and Felonies. Misdemeanors are generally punishable by up to 12 months in the county jail and are handled in the county courts. Fines for a misdemeanor go to a maximum of $1,000. A felony is a much more serious offense and these crimes are handled in circuit court. Felonies are classified into degrees of ascending seriousness: 3rd, 2nd, 1st and Capital. A Third Degree Felony is the minimum level of a felony and punishable by up to 5 years incarceration. Second Degree and First Degree Felonies are punishable up to 15 and 30 years respectively. Capital crimes are the most serious and include murder and can include the death penalty.
How serious is a DUI offense?
Even if there are no aggravating factors such as serious injury, a “simple” DUI offense conviction can lead to substantial financial penalties, the loss of your license and even jail time. For subsequent offenses the penalties can escalate with each offense up to the point where the offense is treated as felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, even if no one is injured.
Should I talk to law enforcement officers if they try to contact me? I didn’t do anything wrong?
NO! Law enforcement officers are trained in interrogating individuals and getting you to say things they want you to say. You have the right to remain silent. It may be advantageous to cooperate with law enforcement, but you should never do so without consulting with your attorney FIRST. Requesting legal advice cannot be used against you.
What should I do if I have been arrested?
When a law enforcement officer keeps you from leaving you have been detained and that is considered an arrest for many legal purposes. At that point you should say nothing and do not give your consent for any search. Nothing you can say will get you out being arrested. You should be polite and tell them that you wish to speak to your attorney.
My loved on has been arrested and is in jail, what can I do to help?
If your loved one has been arrested you need to talk to an attorney immediately. Sometimes the jail may set bond on lesser offenses. If not, your loved one will have a bond hearing within 24 hours. If you have hired an attorney they can ensure that bond is set at a reasonable rate and perhaps even getting released without bond.
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