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Misdemeanors & Felonies
“Attorneys at our firm have more than 30 years of combined criminal defense experience. With five lawyers on your side, you will have an effective, intelligent and efficient legal team working with you to resolve your case.” Attorney Sipreano “Jimmy” Rios
A misdemeanor offense is less serious than a felony, but this does not mean it should be taken lightly. Like any other crime, a misdemeanor can haunt you for the rest of your life and cause you innumerable challenges. With a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced up to one year in jail, one year of probation or a combination of the two.
The list of misdemeanors is quite extensive, but here are some examples:
- Petty theft
- Disturbing the peace
- Misdemeanor domestic violence
- Reckless driving, DUI
- Discharging a firearm within city limits
- Public drunkenness
Often, people convicted of misdemeanors don’t understand the weight of the conviction because they believe they can get the offense expunged, or removed, from their record. While several convictions can be removed, this is not the case for all of them.
There are three levels of felony charges: third degree, second degree and first degree, with first degree being the most severe. If you are convicted of a felony charge, you risk spending one year or more in prison.
Felonies are grave crimes and are heavily condemned by society. Examples of first-degree felonies include:
- All degrees of felony assault
- Rape, sexual assault
- Burglary, robbery
- Guns and weapons charges
- Fraud, embezzlement, white collar crimes
Since felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, having a legal advocate on your side to examine your case is crucial.
Our team at Brown, Suarez, Rios & Weinberg, P.A., understands the difference between felonies and misdemeanors and will treat your case accordingly. We are unwavering in our pursuit of your fair treatment in court, making sure that all of your rights are protected.
The Pretrial Judicial Process From Arrest Through Criminal Charges
Investigation or apprehension and arrest: The arresting police officer must either observe or have reasonable suspicion of a criminal act. Upon arrest by a police officer, the suspect will be booked and held in custody pending further hearings in the process. The arresting officer must clearly state the criminal charges and read the Miranda warning (“the right to remain silent,” etc.). This is the first opportunity the suspect has to hire an attorney and it is the best option to do so.
Arraignment: The arraignment is the first hearing before a judge, at which the suspect will have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. (A third option is to plead no contest.) The suspect may be represented by legal counsel at the hearing and the judge will make sure all charges and consequences of the plea are fully understood. In most cases, the arraignment hearing will also be a time for the prosecutor and the defense attorney to argue their legal points about bail.
Bail: Bail is an amount of money paid by charged suspects as a kind of promissory note that, if they are released, they will appear at all future court hearings. At the conclusion of the arraignment, the judge determines the amount of bail to be set. The suspect typically purchases a bail bond at 10 percent of the amount set by the judge. If the judge does not believe there is a danger to society, he or she may order the suspect to be “released on his/her own recognizance.”
Grand jury: The state or federal government may convene a grand jury to determine whether enough probable cause exists to indict a suspect on formal charges. The suspect’s attorney may present arguments and witnesses to the grand jury. The purpose of the grand jury is not to establish guilt or innocence, but only to determine whether there is enough evidence to indict the suspect on formal criminal charges by the prosecution.
Preliminary hearing: The state of Florida may order a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to indict a suspect using a “bill of information” rather than a grand jury indictment. Unlike a grand jury in which all members of the jury hear arguments and witnesses, attorneys’ arguments presented at a preliminary hearing will be heard only by the convening judge, who makes the ultimate decision about an indictment.
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Seeking the assistance of a trained attorney in a timely manner is important to the success of your case. By sending an email or calling one of our five Southwest Florida including Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda, Arcadia and Sarasota locations, you can speak with one of our attorneys who can explain our approach to protecting your rights.