Federal and State laws outline three different types of criminal offenses, depending on the severity of the crime. The most severe crimes are felonies, followed by misdemeanors. Infractions are minor offenses.

Felonies

The most severe kind of criminal charge is a felony. This includes significant damage to another person or the possibility of such harm.

This harm is often physical, including an aggravated attack with a lethal weapon, rape, kidnapping, murder, and armed robbery. Financial offenses causing significant monetary losses are also considered felonies.

If you commit, help prepare, or go along with a felony crime, you can be convicted of a felony crime, as well.

Consequences related to a felony

In Florida, felonies hold the risk of at least one year in jail. You might also have to pay a huge amount of fines.

The Federal Government separates felonies into different degrees of seriousness. Punishments rise by seriousness. Under Federal law, a Class A crime is the worst and thus carries the most severe punishment (death or life in prison). Class E, the lowest level holds the possible sentence of up to 5 years in prison. 

The possible sentences for a crime vary significantly, but people are entitled to a jury trial and a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford to hire an attorney by themselves.

Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is an offense that is not serious enough to be considered a felony. DUI, theft, vandalism, etc. are considered as a misdemeanor. At times there is an important distinction between a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, DUI can be viewed as a felony if you injure or kill someone.

Consequences related to a misdemeanor

In most cases, one year or less in prison equates to a possible sentence. Other penalties might include monetary fines, reparations, and community service. Many States provide probation or first-offender services that prohibit a conviction from being entered on a criminal record. Possible conditions of these services include restitution and recovery.

Similar to felonies, there are different misdemeanor categories. Under Federal law, the most severe Class A punishes people with prison time between 6 months to 1 year. Class C is the least serious with sentences that vary from 5 to 30 days in prison. 

A misdemeanor conviction may have long-term effects on a person’s life. State regulations differ, but they can affect one’s work-related opportunities, professional licenses, and even public benefits.

Role of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

First of all, a lawyer can help you by advising you of your rights and the court process. Most people are unaware that it is a criminal defense attorney’s priority to tell you not to say anything to the police. The police are not your friends; they will not help you in any way; all they care about is getting their arrests done. The only person you speak to about your case is your lawyer, so that is the first and foremost thing that any criminal defense attorney does. 

The other thing that an attorney can do is try to get the case dropped. That is always the first thing an attorney should do, especially when the client is innocent. In my opinion, they have an affirmative duty to seek to have the case dismissed.

Criminal defense attorneys are trained to identify specific aspects in cases that could be useful in defense. They suspect and search for reasons that can help them to minimize the risk of a crime. Their role is to provide convincing evidence in favor of a winning litigation strategy.