Felony crimes in Florida are defined as criminal charges which are punishable by more than a year of incarceration. Unlike a misdemeanor charge which carries a potential county jail sentence, a person convicted of a felony can be sentenced to incarceration in the Florida Department of Corrections.
The State of Florida has several classes of felony charges, which include the following:
Third Degree Felony Punishable by Maximum of 5 years in State prison
Second Degree Felony Punishable by Maximum of 15 years in State prison
First Degree Felony Punishable by Maximum of 30 years in State prison
Capital or Life Felony Punishable by Maximum of Life Sentence in State prison
If a person is charged with a felony in the State of Florida, the courts use sentencing guidelines to determine the appropriate punishment. All Florida felony cases use what is called a scoresheet, which is used in the court’s sentencing. Each felony crime is assigned a predetermined number of points, determined by an offense severity chart. A person’s previous criminal history is also taken into account, and the points from those crimes are added to the scoresheet calculation.
In preparing the scoresheet, certain points can also be added in crimes where the victim suffered physical injury. Points can also be added where a firearm is involved, or in certain types of drug cases.
In the final calculation, a scoresheet which has a total number of points greater than 44 requires a mandatory state prison sentence, unless there is a negotiated plea agreement between the Prosecution and the Defense. If there is no such plea agreement, the judge must sentence the person to prison, unless the judge finds grounds for what is called a downward departure. The law in Florida establishing those grounds for downward departure are set forth in Florida Statute 921.0026.