Under Florida law, a misdemeanor offense is classified as either a first-degree misdemeanor or a second-degree misdemeanor. Each type of misdemeanor comes with different maximum and minimum penalties set by the various Florida statutes.
Penalties can be avoided by getting the prosecutor to drop the charges, getting the court to dismiss the charges, or getting a “not guilty” verdict at trial.
All criminal traffic and criminal misdemeanor cases are handled in the county court. On the other hand, if the case includes one or more felony offenses, then the case is handled in circuit court.
Attorneys for Misdemeanors in Tampa, FL
After an arrest for criminal misdemeanor charges in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. If you were charged with either a first or second-degree misdemeanor, we can help.
Our main office is located in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County. We represent clients throughout Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, and the surrounding areas of Hillsborough County, FL.
We also have a second office located in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL. Call us at (813) 250-0500 to discuss your case today.
Judges for Misdemeanor Cases at the Tampa Courthouse
Except for domestic violence cases, all misdemeanor offenses and criminal traffic offenses heard in the Tampa Courthouse will be assigned to a county criminal division according to the first letter of the defendant’s last name.
When a notice to appear, criminal report affidavit, or direct information is filed, the clerk will assign the case according to the following alphabetical distribution:
- Division A – The Honorable Jack Gutman for the letters G, O, S, U;
- Division B – The Honorable Eric R. Myers, for the letters B, F, P;
- Division C – The Honorable Scott A. Farr, for the letters D, M, N, X, Y;
- Division D – The Honorable Lawrence M. Lefler, for the letters C, K, R;
- Division E – The Honorable John N. Conrad for the letters H, L, W;
- Division G – The Honorable Paul T. Jeske, for the letters A, E, J, I, Q, T, V, Z;
- Division F – Domestic Violence cases will be assigned to the Honorable Margaret R. Taylor; and
- Division O – First Appearance Cases will be assigned to [to be determined].
Many of the rules governing the administration of criminal cases in Hillsborough County are governed by various administrative orders. The procedures for the County Criminal Division are set out in Administrative Orders.
Penalties for First and Second Degree Misdemeanors
A first-degree misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense. In most cases, it is punishable by up to 12 months in jail with a $1,000.00 fine.
Some types of first-degree misdemeanor charges have a higher fine. For example, a third DUI within three years charged as a misdemeanor comes with a maximum fine of $5,000.00.
A second-degree misdemeanor is slightly less serious. In most cases, a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60 days in jail (or 6 months probation) and a $500.00 fine. Additional penalties and punishments may apply depending on the type of charge involved.
Many misdemeanor cases begin with a “NOTICE TO APPEAR” being issued. The notice to appear is a charging document used in making a criminal charge when the defendant is to be released without being transported to a booking facility.
The notice to appear is a document that has a place for the defendant to sign promising to appear in court to answer to the charge. The Uniform Traffic Citation is used for this purpose in criminal traffic cases.
What is the difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony under Florida law is the statutory maximum penalty. A felony is punishable by a prison sentence, while a misdemeanor is not punishable by prison time. Instead, the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor offense is up to 364 days (or 12 months) in the county jail.
Other important distinctions exist between a misdemeanor and felony charge. For example, a person with a felony conviction losses certain civil rights such as the right to possess a firearm or the right to vote.
Another important difference between a misdemeanor and felony charge is that neither the sentencing guidelines nor the Criminal Punishment Code apply to misdemeanors.
Examples of Misdemeanors in Florida
The most common examples of misdemeanor offenses in Florida include:
- possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis;
- possession of drug paraphernalia;
- petit theft or shoplifting;
- criminal mischief;
- disorderly conduct;
- disorderly intoxication;
- resisting an officer without violence;
- presenting a worthless check;
- assault; and
- domestic violence battery charges.
Some misdemeanors involve allegations that occur while a person is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. The most commonly charged examples of traffic misdemeanor offenses include:
- driving under the influence of a controlled or chemical substances (often called Drug DUI or DUID);
- driving while license suspended or revoked;
- driving with no valid license;
- reckless driving;
- racing on the highway, or
- leaving the scene of a crash with property damage or injury.
Misdemeanor criminal offenses can also include specified violations of natural resource and marine rules. Misdemeanor violations also include county or municipal ordinances.
Possible Ways Misdemeanor Cases are Resolved in Florida
A misdemeanor case may be resolved in any of the following ways:
- the charges can be dismissed for:
- no action (dismissal of the pending charges before an information or indictment has been filed);
- no information (dismissal of the pending charges by not filing an information);
- nolle prosequi (dismissal of a pending information or indictment);
- court dismissal:
- granting a defense motion to dismiss under Rule 3.90(c)(4), Fla. R. Crim. P.;
- upon expiration of the speedy trial period under Rule 3.191, Fla. R. Crim. P.; or
- upon granting Stand Your Ground immunity under s. 776.032, F.S.
- dismissal after successful completion of a diversion or intervention program
- pretrial intervention under section 948.08, F.S.;
- pretrial diversion;
- drug court;
- veterans’ court; or
- mental health court.
- the defendant may plead guilty or no contest to the charges;
- the case may proceed to trial which can result in the defendant being found guilty or acquitted.
If the defendant pleads to the charges or is found guilty at trial, the court may either adjudicate the defendant guilty or withhold adjudication of guilt. Rule 3.670, Fla. R. Crim. P. Regardless of the resolution, the case remains on an adult defendant’s criminal record unless the court grants a petition to seal or expunge the record.
Depositions in Florida Misdemeanor Cases
Depositions in misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases are prohibited unless the defense files a motion showing good cause for the request for permission to take depositions in a misdemeanor case.
If the rules relating to discovery have not been complied with by the state, good cause need not be demonstrated.
To determine good cause, the trial court should consider:
- the severity of the consequences to the defendant;
- the complexity of the issues involved in the case;
- the complexity of the witness’ testimony (i.e. expert testimony);
- the other opportunities available to the defendant to discover the information sought by deposition.
The restriction on depositions does not apply if, after furnishing discovery to the defense, the State takes the statement of a listed defense witness pursuant to F.S. 27.04.
When determining whether good cause exist, consider the rulings in State v. Green, 6 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 561 (Duval Co. 1999); State v. Sheffer, 6 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 512 (Org. Co. 1999).
The defense has the burden of establishing good cause for the court to allow the deposition. Although the trial judge must consider the factors listed above, the court is not required to hold a hearing.
FDLE’s Arrest and Clerk Misdemeanor Statute Table – The FDLE statute table was created in conjunction with the Florida Association of Court Clerks and the Office of State Court Administrators for use with different criminal justice applications such as the Integrated Criminal History Network (ICHN). The table contains data for the Florida statute and subsection number. The 2013 Florida Statute Tables include a different version for the arrest used by law enforcement agencies and the clerk of court. The table has been updated for the FDLE website to include changes made by the 2013 Florida Legislature during the Regular Session.
Fines for Misdemeanor Crimes in Florida – Read the statutory language of Florida Statute Section 775.083 which provides for uniform penalties for both first and second-degree misdemeanors. The statute provides that generally that under subsection (d) the maximum fine is “$1,000, when the conviction is of a misdemeanor of the first degree” and under subsection (e) the maximum fine is “$500, when the conviction is of a misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation.”
Habitual Misdemeanor Offender – Learn more about habitual misdemeanor offenders pursuant to Florida Statute Section 775.0837. The HMO is a defendant who is before the court for sentencing for a specified misdemeanor offense and who has previously been convicted (with either an adjudication or withhold of adjudication), as an adult, of four or more specified misdemeanor offenses which are not part of the same criminal transaction or episode and were committed within 1 year of the date that the misdemeanor before the court for sentencing was committed.
Finding an Attorney for Misdemeanor Charges in Hillsborough County, FL
If you were charged with either a second-degree misdemeanor or a first-degree misdemeanor, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.
We understand that any misdemeanor charge is serious, especially for professionals such as teachers and certified educators, nurses and health care professionals, and members of the military.
Contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the pending misdemeanor charges pending against you.
Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss your case today.
This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Friday, February 8, 2019.