If you are facing any type of criminal charge, you probably feel overwhelmed and confused. What did you do to find yourself in this situation? What should you do next? Is it possible to fight these charges? These are just a few questions you may have after an arrest in Florida and the filing of formal charges.

One of the most important steps in fighting back against any type of criminal charge is figuring out exactly what you’re up against. Understanding the charges against you is the first step in developing the right type of defense strategy for your unique situation. You will need to know if you are facing a felony or misdemeanor charge. This is an important distinction in the nature of your case and the severity of the penalties you could face.

Misdemeanor versus felony crimes

Misdemeanors and felonies are the two main categories of crimes. Within these two groups, there are often different levels, and it can be confusing to understand how serious your case is and what the potential penalties may be if convicted. You may find it helpful to have a basic understanding of the two main types of crimes, which are as follows:

  • Misdemeanor — More serious than a basic infraction, a misdemeanor is a crime that does carry the potential for jail time of less than one year. In most situations, people convicted of misdemeanors serve time in local jails rather than high-security prisons.
  • Felony — A felony is a more serious type of crime. The specific definition of a felony differs from state to state, but it can include the possibility of time in prison, lengthier sentences, significant fines and more. Felony charges are typically for crimes viewed as severe or grossly offensive to society — such as murder or arson.

It can be tempting to underestimate the serious nature of a misdemeanor offense, but that would be a mistake. A conviction of any type of crime has the potential to alter the course of your life and limit your future opportunities.

The importance of a strong defense 

No matter what type of crime you are up against, you would be wise to take immediate action to protect your interests and start developing the most appropriate defense strategy for your individual case. Any charge is a threat to your long-term well-being and personal freedom, two things that are worth fighting for with a strong defense.