What's the difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
A misdemeanor is punishable with a sanction for up to one year and
heard from the County Court.
M2: Second degree misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in county jail or up to
6 months probation. First degree misdemeanors
M1: First degree misdemeanor: Up to one year in county jail, or up to
one year probation.
Additional: Costs, fines, and anything else that's reasonable.
A felony is punishable with a sanction for more than one year and heard
by the Circuit Court Judges.
F3: Third Degree Felony: up to five (5) years in prison and $5,000 fine.
F2: Second Degree Felony: up to 15 years in state prison and $10,000
F1: First Degree Felony: 30 years in state prison up to life in prison,
or death in cases of first degree premeditated murder.
What happens after I'm arrested?
You're notified of the crime and copies of the charge. Bail/bond
amount is set. You may be released upon certain conditions.
your attorney to lower the bond amount if it's too high.
How do you post bond?
Bond is in cash at the jail or a bondsman may post bond for you.
The bondsman charges a fee of the bond amount in exchange for posting the
So I need to show for court?
And officer may make an arrest, issue a notice to appear or cite you
requiring you to appear. This means you must show.
How do I find out about my case?
Contact the clerk of court or your bondsman.
Is an attorney necessary?
An attorney will assist and inform you if necessary. By briefly
discussing the issue with an attorney, you'll learn if an attorney is the
best choice to help you with this situation. A consultation is
critical to determine the many facts in making this important decision in
I don't have money for an attorney. How can I obtain an attorney to
You may obtain a Public Defender. The Judge will review your
Affidavit of Insolvency. This is self report of what you own and owe.
If you qualify, an attorney will represent you. Although you may not
choose your public defender, you may obtain your own attorney to represent
you at any time, if you can afford it.
What happens if I wait to hire an attorney?
Options may be limited. Usually, it's not too late.
Can I request who is my public defender, judge or prosecutor?
Usually, the answer is no. Judges split the cases between them.
What will the court do if I don't show
for the hearing?
The court may issue a warrant for your arrest, suspend your driver's
license or reschedule the hearing. The attorney may appear in your
place if you waive it so.
What's a DOC Hearing?
DOC means "determination of counsel." The court sets this hearing
to determine if you found an attorney. This typically happens at
arraignment. If you don't have an attorney by the DOC, tell the judge.
What's an arraignment?
The judge advises you of the charges, you're requested to enter a plea
and they ask if you're represented by an attorney. These are the
Not Guilty: You maintain due process and other legal rights to
challenge the evidence against you.
Guilty: Your legal rights are waived to challenge the evidence against
No Contest: Your legal rights are waived to challenge the evidence
What's pretrial conference?
This is the scheduling conference and negotiations occur. Make
certain your attorney shows up at this meeting to handle pleas, negotiations
What happens if I don't have an attorney?
You'll explain to the judge the situation that you don't have an
attorney. Because this is an emotional and stressful time, it's not
advisable to represent yourself in such a trial. Consider requesting
more time to obtain an attorney, if you don't have on by pre-trial.
What should I say to the police?
Although you want to explain your side of the story, don't say anything
at all. Don't say anything to the police. You have the right to
refuse to give a statement. You have a right to refuse a search of
your person, vehicle or residence. If the police possess a search
warrant, don't resist.
What's the right to a speedy trial?
Florida has 90 days to bring you to trial from the date of arrest; for
175 days for any felony.
You waive this right if you miss a hearing or ask for more time to
prepare your case. Ask your attorney about your rights.
Criminal Traffic Offense is not the same as a civil traffic
Both impact your driving history. A ticket or citation should state
if it's criminal. If criminal, you must appear. If civil, your
attorney may appear for you.