West Palm Beach Misdemeanors Lawyer
Misdemeanors may not be as serious as felonies. But that does not mean that a misdemeanor conviction is meaningless either. Any criminal record can put your freedom and livelihood in jeopardy. So you need to be prepared to defend yourself even against a relatively “minor” charge like a misdemeanor.
An experienced West Palm Beach misdemeanors lawyer can guide you through this process. At the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., we represent clients charged with a variety of misdemeanor offenses ranging from first-time DUI to petit theft. We understand that any criminal case can seriously disrupt your life and your family, which is why we provide skilled and compassionate advice to our clients on how to best resolve their case.
Can You Avoid Jail for a Misdemeanor Conviction in Florida?
Broadly speaking, a misdemeanor is a criminal offense that carries a maximum penalty of no more than 1 year in jail. This means that many misdemeanor offenses do in fact carry the prospect of some jail time. Although depending on the nature of the case and the specific charge, it is often possible to negotiate a plea that only requires probation and other non-jail punishment.
Florida actually subdivides misdemeanor offenses into two categories:
First-degree misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor offenses and carry a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a fine that will not exceed $1,000. Some common examples of Florida first-degree misdemeanors include battery, DUI, and simple possession of marijuana.
Second-degree misdemeanors are less serious but still carry a maximum jail term of 60 days and a fine not to exceed $500. Some common first-degree misdemeanors include simple assault, driving with a suspended license, and first offenses for petit theft.
In some cases, a misdemeanor offense may be elevated from second-degree to first-degree, or even from misdemeanor to felony, based on certain special circumstances. For example, many misdemeanor offenses like battery carry the same penalties as a third-degree felony conviction for a second offense. There are also situations where the victim’s status plays a role in the charge brought. For example, while simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, it may escalate to a first-degree misdemeanor or felony if the alleged victim was a child, an elderly person, or a member of law enforcement.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
As previously stated, a misdemeanor conviction does not always mean jail time. Florida judges have broad discretion in sentencing misdemeanor defendants. Depending on the specific facts and circumstances, the court may place a defendant on probation without requiring any jail time first. And certain misdemeanor cases, such as first-time nonviolent offenders, may be eligible for pretrial intervention or community court proceedings, which can lead to dismissal of charges.
This is why it is so important to work with a skilled West Palm Beach misdemeanors lawyer who can explain your options to you and help you to decide an appropriate course of action. So if you are facing any sort of misdemeanor charge and need legal advice right away, contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., today.