You’re probably aware that being charged with a felony doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be punished for one, but do you know why and how that occurs? Felonies, which are a category of more serious crimes, carry hefty fines and prison time, whereas misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by up to one year in jail and lesser fines. If you have been charged with a felony, it’s sometimes possible to reduce that charge to a misdemeanor. Read on to learn how this facet of the criminal justice system works, then call a criminal defense attorney in Tavares, FL to discuss your case.
How the charging process works
When you’re arrested, charges can be filed against you in different ways. Most commonly, the police will give their report to the district attorney’s office, which will decide whether there’s enough evidence to file charges against you. If they decide to pursue the case, they’ll file an “information,” which is the charging document. (Depending on your location, it may have a different name.) This document tells you which crimes you are accused of committing, including the applicable penal code sections.
Additional charges can be filed later, if the prosecutor believes there’s evidence of more crimes—or that their severity is increased due to the evidence uncovered. Whenever the charges are filed, you’ll learn whether they’re felonies or misdemeanors. Since felonies carry harsher punishments, defendants often want them reduced as much as possible, whether they’re dropped or reduced to a misdemeanor.
How a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor
Felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors in three different ways:
- There’s not enough evidence to support felony charges: Often, police officers recommend felony charges without the legal knowledge of what kind of evidence is necessary. If there’s a mistake in the charging document, the prosecutor may voluntarily reduce charges on their own.
- You strike a plea bargain: Before your trial occurs, there are several different hearings, including the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing offers prosecutors an opportunity to put witnesses on the stand and prove to the judge that there’s enough evidence in the case to go forward. If the defense attorney is able to discredit enough of this evidence or get some evidence thrown out entirely, the prosecutor may wish to strike a plea bargain. This usually includes reduced charges.
If you have the chance to reduce your felony charges to a misdemeanor, it can be quite beneficial. However, make sure you consult with your attorney before agreeing to any deal.
K.J. Law P.A. is an attorney’s office in Tavares, FL, specializing in criminal law, family law and more. Reach out to us today to discuss the particulars of your case and how we can serve you.
Categorised in: Criminal Defense