While misdemeanor charges are generally not as serious as felony charges, there are still significant penalties associated with misdemeanors. In Florida, misdemeanors are classified as first-degree and second-degree. First-degree misdemeanors are the more serious of the two and can result in up to one year in jail and/or probation and up to $1,000 in fines. A second-degree misdemeanor can result in up to 60 days in jail and/or six months of probation and up to $500 in fines.
Some of the most common misdemeanors in Florida include:
- Driving under the influence
- Petty theft
- Disorderly conduct
- Marijuana possession
Misdemeanors may remain on your record
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, your first concern may be that it will stay on your record indefinitely. A conviction will be on your record permanently (unless it is overturned), so it is important that you consult with a criminal defense attorney to come up with a strategy to defend against the charges you face. However, under Florida Statutes, Section 943.0585 and 943.059, if you have been arrested but not been convicted, you may be able to:
- Seal your record – Technically, your criminal record will still be viewable by law enforcement and a few select others, but it will no longer be viewable by the public or be available to an employer during a background check.
- Expunge your record – With the exception of one confidential copy of your record, which will stay with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, your criminal record will be physically destroyed and therefore not be viewable to others.
There are certain criteria you must meet to be eligible for sealing or expungement of your record. Your criminal defense attorney can review these criteria to determine if you are eligible.