Call Us 24 hours / 7 days a week

What’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are crimes that are typically treated as less serious than felonies and thus have less severe penalties.

For instance, a misdemeanor shoplifting charge will be treated less severely than a felony robbery charge. 

In Florida, misdemeanors may be punishable by up to one year in county jail, while felony convictions require at least one year in state prison.

Whether you’re being accused of a misdemeanor or felony, you shouldn’t navigate the Florida justice system alone. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys are ready to protect your rights and your freedom.

what is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor


Misdemeanors in Florida

Florida law defines a misdemeanor as any criminal offense punishable by imprisonment in a county correctional facility for no more than one year.

Many misdemeanors may result in a suspended jail sentence with probation and fines in lieu of jail time.

Certain misdemeanor charges, such as a DUI or other traffic charges like reckless driving, may also result in a license suspension.

State law further categorizes misdemeanors as first- and second-degree offenses. First-degree offenses are more serious than second-degree offenses.

First-degree misdemeanors 

Penalties for the crimes listed below include a ​​jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.

Please note, this is not a full list of first-degree misdemeanors.

Second-degree misdemeanors 

Penalties for the crimes listed below include a jail sentence of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500.

Please note, this is not a full list of second-degree misdemeanors.

Felonies in Florida

State law defines a felony as any criminal offense punishable by death or imprisonment in a state facility.

Similar to misdemeanors, there are different classes of felonies based on the severity of the offense. As the severity of the class increases, so does the punishment. 

Here’s a breakdown of some common felonies we’ve defended our clients against, as well as the maximum prison term and fines that may be issued during sentencing.

Felony class


Maximum prison sentence

Maximum fine

Third-degree felony

Aggravated assault

Child abuse

Grand theft (less than $20,000)

Possession of a controlled substance

5 years


Second-degree felony

DUI manslaughter

Burglary of a dwelling

Sale of cocaine

Sexual battery

Grand theft (less than $100,000)

15 years


First-degree felony

Aggravated child abuse

Drug trafficking

Burglary with assault or battery

Robbery with a weapon

Grand theft (more than $100,000)

30 years


Life or capital felony


Capital drug trafficking

Armed kidnapping

Robbery with a firearm

Sexual battery (when the victim is under 12 and the perpetrator is 18 or older)

Life sentence or

death penalty


Don’t assume you’re out of options if you were charged with any of the crimes listed above.

In many instances, a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Orlando can get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, which can help reduce the fines you owe and the amount of time you could spend in jail.

Life-altering consequences of felony and misdemeanor convictions

Aside from spending time in jail or prison, a misdemeanor or felony conviction can have a ripple effect on your life.

A conviction could affect your reputation in your community, hinder your employment opportunities, and might even impact your ability to be approved for housing.

Depending on your conviction, you may not be able to get a job in:

  • Finance and banking
  • Education, or any position involving working in a school
  • Law enforcement
  • Commercial driving

Are you facing felony or misdemeanor charges in Orlando?

If you’ve been charged with a crime, you have the right to legal representation of your choosing. You shouldn’t try to navigate the complex Florida criminal process alone.

Contact Katz & Phillips, P.A. at (321) 332-6864 to schedule a consultation and begin your defense.

More FAQs