Miami Misdemeanors Lawyer
While less serious than a felony, a misdemeanor in Florida also carries the potential of significant penalties, including jail time and a fine. A conviction also means that you will have a criminal record with state police and federal authorities, which could weigh heavily against you in the event of a future arrest. Given the lasting consequences of a misdemeanor conviction, it is crucial to have the criminal defense legal representation.
At Valiente Law, we routinely defend clients throughout Miami against a wide range of misdemeanor charges. If you have been accused of a misdemeanor, we know how to build the best line of defense and protect your rights. When you work with our dedicated advocates, you can rest assured we will always fight for you.
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How are misdemeanors different from felonies?
It is important to note the differences between felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are punishable by incarceration in a state prison, however, a misdemeanor conviction can lead to up to one year in a county jail. A felony conviction may also lead to the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote, but not so for a misdemeanor. Finally, the Criminal Punishment Code and sentencing guidelines that the state uses in felony cases does not apply to misdemeanor convictions.
Miami, Florida Misdemeanor Classifications
In Florida, there are two classifications of misdemeanors:
- First-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and fine up to $1,000 or both
- Second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and fine up to $500, or both
Common First-Degree misdemeanors include:
- Simple battery — intentionally touching, striking or causing bodily harm to another person, without “aggravating factors” such as the use of a weapon, or serious bodily injury.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) — having a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08 or higher or not having normal use of your faculties while operating a motor vehicle (the BAL limit for commercial drivers is .04 percent).
- Marijuana possession — Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law, as such, despite the availability of medical marijuana, recreational use remains illegal and the possession of 20 grams or less is a first-degree misdemeanor (possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony).
- Prostitution/Solicitation — Engaging in sex acts in exchange for something of value or offering money or something of value to another person in exchange for sexual activity.
- Shoplifting — referred to as retail theft, involves taking merchandise, property, money or negotiable instruments (e.g., gifts cards) valued under $300, or altering or removing a price tag, label or universal product code (UPC). Charged as petty/petit or grand theft depending on the value of the stolen property.
Common Second Degree misdemeanors include:
- Simple assault — involves an intentional threat, by word or act, to commit violence towards another person, the apparent ability to carry out the threat, and doing some act which places the alleged victim in reasonable fear that such violence is imminent.
- Criminal mischief — willfully and maliciously injuring or damaging by any means any real or personal property belonging to another valued at $200 or less (includes graffiti other acts of vandalism). Over $200 becomes a first-degree misdemeanor and over $1000 becomes a third-degree felony.
- Disorderly conduct — involves (1) committing an act that corrupts public morals, outrages the sense of public decency or affects the peace and quiet of persons who witness the act (2) engaging in brawling, fighting, or other conduct that constitutes a breach of the peace.
- Petit Theft — knowingly obtaining, using or attempting to use another person’s property valued under $100 with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deny the owner of the property. If the value is between $100 and $299 it becomes a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Simple Trespass — willfully entering or remaining upon property, or in a structure or conveyance, without the express or implied permission of the owner.
Potential Sentences for a Misdemeanor Conviction
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to any period of jail less than or up to the maximum and/or a fine. There is also the possibility of a period of probation that does not include jail, that comes with additional conditions such as community service, curfews, restitution, no contact with the victim or appropriate counseling for substance abuse or anger issues.
Additional Consequences of Miami Misdemeanors
In addition to potential jail time, a misdemeanor conviction may result in a permanent criminal record. This can potentially harm your educational and job prospects and may make it more difficult to rent an apartment.
Contact Our Miami Misdemeanors Lawyer
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, it is critically important to work with an attorney who will explore all of your options. Although we are committed to winning an acquittal, it may also be possible to arrange a plea bargain if that alternative is in your best interests. Above all, we will always provide you with trusted advice that can help you make the best decisions about your future. We know that dealing with the criminal justice system can be intimidating, but you can rest assured we will provide you with the guidance you need, always keeping you fully informed about the status of your case. When your freedom, your future and your reputation are hanging in the balance, we will stand by you.