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What Is a Third-Degree Felony in Florida?

Gutin & Wolverton May 23, 2017

Sometimes life can throw you a curveball. Being charged with a third-degree felony in Florida is a life-changing event.

Maybe you reacted badly to something, or maybe you were put into a situation where things just went awry.

Either way, being prepared for what’s to come is the best thing you can do.

Down below, we’ve listed some of the essential information you’ll need to know if you’ve been charged with a third-degree felony in Florida.

What Is a Third-Degree Felony in Florida?

Luckily, out of all of the possible felonies you can be charged with, a third-degree felony is the least serious.

A third-degree felony in Florida can be punished by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

A third-degree felony can also be the default punishment for any felony that has not been designated a felony or a punishment.

There is a range of criminal acts that fall under the category of a third-degree felony in Florida.

Some third-degree felonies include:

  • Possession of drugs such as cocaine, oxycodone or a 20-gram surplus of marijuana

  • Theft of an unoccupied vehicle

  • Aggravated assault

  • Battery

  • Resisting an officer by way of violence

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

There are also offenses that have minimum sentences as default. Some of these include felony DUI and also aggravated assault with a firearm.

There can also be surplus penalties.

Defendants may also be asked to pay the victim restitution as part of their court order.

Third-Degree Felony Procedure

Make no mistake, being charged with a third-degree felony can be harrowing.

There is a lot to consider in these situations.

In particular, the possible outcome of being charged with a third-degree felony in Florida can wear you down, just as much as not knowing what is yet to happen.

Having a basic understanding of what is next is vital to protecting yourself and your family against what is to come.

After a felony charge is filed, there will be a number of things that come next.

  • Your charge will be read to you. This will give you a more precise clue to the gravity of the charges you could possibly face.

  • The court will make sure that you have sufficient legal representation. If you do not already have an attorney, it will assist in providing one.

  • A bond may be considered by the court. This is to secure your freedom post-trial.

  • A date for the preliminary hearing will be set.

The preliminary hearing will be a probable cause hearing, at which time the state must show that two things happened – that a felony occurred, and that the defendant committed it.

If the court can prove these two things, then the defendant will be addressed to the circuit court. Pending will be an arraignment within a 40-day period.

During you arraignment in circuit court, you will have your charge read to you and you will have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Again, an attorney will be assigned to you if you do not have one. Also, bond will be set again.

The court will also set a date for the trial before a judge and the state, whereby sufficient proof of every part of the crime must be shown ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’

Punishments and Proceedings

As mentioned before, the consequences of a felony conviction are nothing to sneer at.

Aside from the potential prison time, which can be a number of years in prison, you may also be ordered to pay a fine.

The consequences and options will also depend on your prior history.

The option of parole is also possible. Probation, specifically, is the suspension of jail time. Depending on the situation, an individual may have to serve at least part of their prison term before parole is available.

Sometimes, probation can replace any prison time meant to be served.

Probation shouldn’t be mistaken for freedom, however. There will be certain stipulations that have to be met. Counseling or finding a stable job are two of these.

Violation of these terms can lead to instantaneous imprisonment. Parole also bears similarities to probation. It primarily involves an early release from prison via certain conditions.

Appealing a felony conviction may also be possible. However, it is not the easiest way to proceed.

The success of an appeal hinges on the ability of your attorney to prove that mistakes were made during the prosecution process that led to this outcome.

Other Areas

In certain circumstances, a judge may choose to dismiss a case.

Don’t count on this in the event of a conviction – however, it does happen at times

Insufficient evidence can be a reason for this, as well as the methods in which the evidence used for the case was attained.

Illegal methods such as an unconstitutional seizure is one such reason.

Sometimes, a crime will have been committed so long ago that it is no longer eligible for trial.

The time period by which a crime can be charged is known as the statute of limitations.

Although the court will assign you an attorney if you are lacking one, it is most definitely in your best interest to acquire one yourself.

Public attorneys can be very good, but will be inundated with cases to tackle. Therefore, it is possible they may lack the time to put everything into your litigation proceedings.

Having your own attorney will also bring several benefits.

As well as providing a solid peace of mind, your own attorney will focus entirely on you.

They will also endeavor to help you understand what is going on with your case, and can give you the confidence to feel strong in court.

Knowing you have a better idea in regard to where you stand and what can possibly happen with your charges, you can put together a plan of what you’re going to do.

Our specialties include these types of situations.

Feel free to get in touch with us going forward.