Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor

The Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes in Florida

When you are charged with a criminal offense, it is usually categorized as a felony or a misdemeanor. There is a massive difference between felony and misdemeanor criminal cases. A felony offense is considered more serious than a misdemeanor offense and usually involves harsher and lengthier legal consequences. The decision to prosecute an offense as a felony or misdemeanor is made by the Florida District Attorneys. Both felonies and misdemeanors can appear on your criminal record and place limits on future career, education, and housing opportunities.


A felony is the most serious type of crime you can commit within the legal system. A crime that is punishable by more than one year in prison or by death is usually considered as a felony. Felonies often involve the bodily harm of another person, large sums of money, or assault crimes in the first degree. Common felony offenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Grand Theft
  • Kidnapping
  • Embezzlement

If a person is convicted of a felony, they may face restrictions on their civil rights. Felons are not allowed to serve on juries. In some jurisdictions, felons are not allowed to vote or practice certain professions. Convicted felons are also not allowed to own or possess firearms.

Punishments for felony convictions depend upon the type of crime committed and its severity. Most felonies are punishable with over a year of jail time, large monetary fines, lengthy probation terms, house arrest, and community service. Below are the different degrees of Florida felonies.

3rd Degree Felonies
Are punishable by up to 5 years in the Department of Corrections.
Examples of 3rd Degree Felonies: Driving While License Suspended with Two Prior Offenses, Driving while License Suspended Habitual Traffic Offender, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Criminal Mischief greater than $1000.00, Grand Theft greater than $300.00 but less than $5000.00, DUI 3rd conviction within 10 years of the 2nd conviction, sale or manufacturing of Marijuana, Battery on a Person over 65 years old, Battery on Law Enforcement Officer, Burglary of Unoccupied Structure, Robbery by Sudden Snatching (This list is not exhaustive).

2nd Degree Felonies
Are punishable by up to 15 years in the Department of Corrections.
Examples of 2nd Degree Felonies: Fleeing to Elude, Purchase of Cocaine, Aggravated Fleeing to Elude, Felony DUI 4th Offense or Subsequent Conviction, Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon No Intent to Kill, Burglary of Occupied Structure, Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor, Lewd and Lascivious Conduct, Sale of a Controlled Substance, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, DUI Manslaughter, certain forms of Homicide, Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (This list is not exhaustive).

1st Degree Felonies
Are punishable by up to 30 years in the Department of Corrections and in some instances by Life in Prison.
Examples of 1st Degree Felonies: Trafficking in Controlled Substances, Burglary with Assault and Battery, Lewd or Lascivious Battery, Exploitation of the Elderly $100,000.00 or more, Kidnapping, Sexual Battery, Child Molestation, Murder, Aggravated Child Abuse, Accomplice to Murder, and Robbery with a Firearm (This list is not exhaustive).


Misdemeanor offenses are considered less serious than felony offenses. A crime that is punishable by less than a year in prison is typically considered a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors do not usually involve serious bodily harm to another person. Common misdemeanors include, but are not limited to:

  • Traffic Violations
  • Petty Theft
  • Drunk Driving
  • Receipt of Stolen Property

Misdemeanors are punishable by probation, jail time of less than a year, community service, counseling, restitution, and monetary fines.

If you are being charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense, it is in your best interest to speak with a reputable Florida criminal defense attorney. Our law offices can evaluate your case and inform you of your options. Please call us to discuss your misdemeanor or felony charge – 1-888-781-9696.