If you’re charged with a felony, there are a few things you need to know. First, you have to understand what degree the felony is. Second, you need to know exactly which felony you face. Finally, you need to know if there are any good defenses that you should know about for the alleged criminal act.

Felonies range from third- to first-degree felonies. A first-degree felony is the most serious, while a third-degree felony is less serious. For example, counterfeiting or altering lottery tickets is a third-degree felony in Florida, whereas treason against the state is a first-degree felony.

What kinds of crimes fall under first-degree felony statutes?

Certain crimes fall under first-degree charges. Felonies such as kidnapping, murder and money laundering all fall under first-degree categorization. Many drug crimes, like trafficking amphetamine or cannabis, may also fall under a first-degree charge if you possess enough of the drugs at the time of an arrest or search.

The differences between first-, second- and third-degree felonies must not be understated. Changing your charges from a first- to second-degree felony could take years off a prison sentence or help you avoid jail completely. While most felonies do have mandatory prison sentencing, there are benefits to having lesser crimes on your record, which is something to work toward.

Your attorney can discuss the different defensive options with you once he or she understands your case. Every case is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to a defense. Building a defense from the ground up is the best way to defend yourself.

Source: Florida Department of Corrections, “Florida Criminal Punishment Code: Offense Severity Ranking Chart Section 921.0022, Florida Statutes,” accessed Feb. 15, 2018