First-Degree Felony Offenses

felony criminal defense attorney orlando

If you’re arrested in the United States, you may face a criminal charge called a felony charge. Felonies are considered the most serious type of crime in the United States, and they’re not always violent in nature. Whether your offense involved white-collar violations like embezzlement or money laundering, or you caused a DUI that involved a fatality, felonious acts come with severe consequences in the state of Florida.

The punishment for a felony depends on the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime and any enhanced sentencing guidelines that might pertain to your case.  In addition to heavy prison sentences and financially devastating fines, one loses several civil rights with a slim chance of reinstatement. It’s essential to understand the classifications of felonies and the ramifications of each one to aid you in your search for a reputable criminal defense lawyer in Orlando.  

Understanding Felony Offenses

Felonies are classified into three different degrees: first degree, second degree, and third degree. A felony is more severe than a misdemeanor offense. Penalties may include incarceration and steep financial fines. Incarceration for a felony offense is typically a period of at least one year in prison.

The different degrees of felonies directly relate to the type of crime that was committed and the circumstances surrounding it. The smaller the numerical value of the felony, the more serious the charge and punishment you must face. For example, a first-degree felony holds more consequences than a third-degree felony and therefore results in a harsher punishment.

First-Degree Felonies

Under Florida Statute §775.082, first-degree felonies are considered the worst of the three classifications. If you’re charged with a first-degree felony in the state of Florida, your punishment can include up to 30 years in prison along with a $10,000 fine. Defendants with prior convictions may receive harsher penalties as the court sees fit, and certain crimes carry enhanced sentencing structures that could extend your prison time to life.

Some common first-degree felonies include:

  • Drug trafficking 
  • Trafficking of stolen items 
  • Aggravated child abuse 
  • Aggravated assault of an officer

This list is not exhaustive, and the classification given to the crime can vary. If you’re charged with any criminal act, it’s essential to immediately seek the help of a criminal defense attorney in your area. These attorneys can help you navigate the legal process and potentially lessen or eliminate your charges.

Consequences of a First-Degree Felony

Besides incarceration and hefty fines, first-degree felonies have other penalties that can affect you long-term. Having a first-degree felony on your record reduces some civil rights for the rest of your life. These consequences include:

  • Forfeiting your right to vote 
  • Can’t hold public office 
  • Potential inability to maintain a stable job 
  • Inability to work or volunteer with children 
  • Can’t possess a firearm

While restoration is possible through an application for clemency, the process takes years to complete and there is never a guarantee of success. 

Expungement of First-Degree Felony Charges

Trying to keep your current job, professional licensing, or even applying for a new position in another state will become a source of embarrassment when having a felony in your background check. There are possible options for clearing your troubled history by sealing the case record or having it expunged.

There are no guarantees you will qualify for either of these options since the outcome of your charges will affect your eligibility to apply. Felony convictions may not be expunged or sealed in Florida.

Next Steps

The first step to take when you’re accused of a first-degree felony is to hire a criminal defense lawyer. The law surrounding felonious crimes in Florida is complex and often results in severe penalties. If properly handled by a skilled defense attorney, a reduction in the charge, sentence, or dismissal could potentially occur. 

The attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm have more than 100 years of combined experience defending criminal cases aggressively.  Our legal team works with you to not only receive a favorable outcome but protect your rights and future during this challenging time. Recognized as some of Florida Trend’s Legal Elite in 2018, you will have our knowledge as former state prosecutors working to your advantage. Contact our Orlando criminal defense attorneys today at (407) 228-3838 for a free case review.