Defense of Felony Offenses

Defense of Felony Offenses

Tama Beth Kudman is an experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney with offices in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens Florida and New York City, NY. She has extensive experience defending individuals under investigation and/or prosecution for a wide-range of Felony Offenses in both State and Federal Court.

Felonies: An Overview

In Florida, crimes are divided into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by up to one year in county jail and classified as misdemeanors of the first or second degree. Felonies are more serious crimes, punishable by the death penalty or incarceration in a state prison. (Fla. Stat. §§ 775.08, 775.081.)

Felony cases are the most complicated and serious crimes in Florida. The government saves its most experienced and decorated prosecutors to handle felony cases. It is accordingly important that you retain an attorney with extensive experience and knowledge to challenge these prosecutors.

Felony Offenses include:

  • Aggravated Battery,
  • Battery on Law Enforcement Officer,
  • Burglary,
  • Child Abuse,
  • Drug Offenses, including Trafficking
  • Felony Battery,
  • Grand Theft,
  • Homicide,
  • Kidnapping,
  • Resisting Officer with Violence,
  • Sex Crimes, including:
    • Sexual Battery (Rape)
    • Lewd and Lascivious Battery
    • Lewd and Lascivious Molestation
  • Murder
  • Money Laundering
  • Racketeering
  • Gambling
  • Computer Crimes
  • Conspiracy

Punishment In the State of Florida

The term “felony” means any criminal offense that is punishable under the laws of Florida, or that would be punishable if committed in Florida, by death or imprisonment in the state penitentiary. “State penitentiary” includes state correctional facilities. All felonies are punishable by incarceration in state prison. The legislature has created five categories of felonies, which are classified, for purposes of sentencing and for any other purpose provided by statute, as follows:
Capital felony. A defendant who has been convicted of a capital felony must be punished by death if the proceeding held to determine sentence in accordance with the provisions of section 921.141 results in findings by the court that such person shall be punished by death, otherwise such person must be punished by life imprisonment and will be ineligible for parole. In the event that the death penalty is held to be unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, the court having jurisdiction over a defendant previously sentenced to death for a capital felony is required to cause that defendant to be brought before the court and to sentence that defendant to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. No sentence of death can be reduced as a result of a determination that a method of execution is held unconstitutional under the state constitution or the constitution of the United States.
Life felony. A defendant who has been convicted of a life felony committed prior to October 1, 1983 may be punished by a term of imprisonment for life or for a term of years not less than 30; for a life felony committed on or after October 1, 1983 by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 40 years; for a life felony committed on or after July 1, 1995 , except for one which was committed on or after September 1, 2005 which is a violation of section 800.04(5)(b), for a term of imprisonment for life or by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment; and for a life felony committed on or after September 1, 2005 which is a violation of s. 800.04(5)(b), by a term of imprisonment for life, or a split sentence that is a term of not less than 25 years’ imprisonment and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation or community control for the remainder of the person’s natural life, as provided in section 948.012(4). Note that the provision for not less than 25 years’ imprisonment is not a minimum mandatory sentence in the ordinary sense. A defendant who has committed a life felony on or after July 1, 2008, which is that defendant’s second or subsequent violation of section 800.04(5)(b) may be punished by a term of imprisonment for life.
Felony of the first degree. A defendant who has been convicted of a felony of the first degree may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 30 years or, when specifically provided by statute, by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment.
Felony of the second degree. A defendant who has been convicted of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 15 years.
Felony of the third degree. A defendant who has been convicted of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.
A capital felony and a life felony must be so designated by statute. Other felonies are of the particular degree designated by statute. Any crime declared by statute to be a felony without specification of degree is a felony of the third degree, except that this provision does not affect felonies punishable by life imprisonment for the first offense.
Felony offenses are sentenced pursuant to Florida’s criminal punishment code (“CPC”), commonly referred to as a score sheet. If you score more than 44 points, you are subject to a minimum term of imprisonment. If you score less than 44 points, a judge is not required to sentence you to prison, but may still do so.

Punishment in Federal Court

In Federal Court, sentences are determined and imposed exclusively by a United States District Court Judge. The Judge makes a sentencing determination after consulting the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines and reviewing each defendant’s particular background and criminal history, as well as the circumstances surrounding the offense. Sentences are also influenced by whether the defendant pleaded guilty, by whether a defendant has provided cooperation to the government, or whether the defendant went to trial.

Individuals convicted in federal court may be sentenced to serve time in prison, to serve time in home-confinement, to perform community service, to pay fines and/or restitution, and/or to serve a period of supervised release with conditions such as drug treatment. Parole has been abolished in the federal system.

Collateral Consequences

In addition to the possibility of imprisonment, a felony conviction carries a number of collateral consequences:

  • Loss of your Civil Rights,
  • Ineligible to obtain State Licenses,
  • Ineligible to hold public office,
  • Ineligible for federal or state aid,
  • Inability to get hired,
  • Unable to rent an apartment, etc…Additionally, employers are sometimes prevented from hiring felons because most insurance companies will not insure a felon.

 The Importance of Experienced Legal Help

No matter what type of criminal allegation you are confronting, it is essential to retain experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense counsel.  Tama Beth Kudman has been representing individuals accused of committing state and federal  crimes for nearly 20 years. Ms. Kudman brings this experience and knowledge to every case that she defends.

Contact Tama Beth Kudman, an experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney today for help if you are charged with a felony crime or if you believe you are under investigation.