Misdemeanors are defined by statute so it is not as if the judge or the police officer has the discretion to just decide on their own to elevate an infraction to a misdemeanor; it is statutory. Factors would include driving on a suspended license, racing, fleeing the scene of an accident or hit-and-run, etc. Speed-related misdemeanors would include racing, fleeing or eluding and reckless driving. It is not necessarily that the infraction would be elevated to a misdemeanor, but those violations of the rules of the road are considered to be misdemeanors under Florida Statutes, under Chapter 316. Traffic misdemeanors are serious charges with potentially serious consequences which is why it is important to get in touch with an attorney. Consult an experienced traffic lawyer that has defended Ft. Lauderdale traffic misdemeanors before, and could fight for a positive outcome for you.
Sentencing for Traffic Misdemeanors
When it comes to sentencing, most Ft. Lauderdale traffic misdemeanors result in fines or court costs and/or probation. For example, in a DUI case it is mandated that if somebody is found guilty or pleaded guilty or no contest, the court is required to place an individual on probation, and it would depend on the individual’s record as to whether or not they face being placed on probation or if jail is a consideration upon being sentenced. Another example: if somebody is charged with not having a valid driver’s license and they come into court before the case is over within a certain time limit prescribed by the judge, if they can show that they fixed their driver’s license, they would be in a position to get their case dismissed.
With individuals that have a prior record or are unable to fix the problems before their cases are resolved, they’re looking at, potentially, fines and/or court costs and, in some limited situations, some judges would put an individual on probation until the problem is fixed. For example, on a traffic misdemeanor case involving driving with a suspended license , if an individual is unable to clear their license before the conclusion of the case and the court is concerned that an individual would continue to drive, the court might consider placing that individual on probation to make sure that the individual does not continue to drive without a valid driver’s license and to give the individual an incentive to fix their driver’s license or to restore their driver’s license. Most judges, under those circumstances, would terminate the probation or take an individual off of probation once the driver’s license has been cleared or restored.
Potential Penalties for Traffic Misdemeanors
The maximum penalty on any traffic misdemeanor case is a year in the Broward County Jail. There are two general classifications of misdemeanors in Fort Lauderdale and in Broward County: first-degree, which is up to a year in the county jail and second-degree, which is technically a misdemeanor and includes up to 60 days in the county jail. There are also hybrids. For example, reckless driving under 316.192 has a maximum penalty of 90 days in the county jail. Most people do not actually go to jail, but it is important to note that on a traffic misdemeanor, there are offenses in which an individual can get arrested. So, technically, that is going to jail but, more often than not, individuals can bond out fairly quickly and an experienced Fort Lauderdale traffic attorney would seek a resolution that would not involve jail time.
Appealing a Conviction
People can appeal misdemeanor convictions the same way that they would appeal a civil traffic infraction. The appeal would go from county court to circuit court. Penalties involving traffic criminal cases or traffic misdemeanor cases are much more significant as compared to civil traffic infractions. It might be more beneficial for somebody to consider an appeal under those circumstances. The more significant consequences relating to a traffic misdemeanor case involve an individual’s criminal record and potential incarceration. Examples are driving under the influence, racing, and hit-and-runs, but appeals go from the county court to the circuit court for traffic misdemeanor convictions. If an individual is interested in appealing a conviction, they should consult a lawyer familiar with Ft. Lauderdale traffic misdemeanors, who may be able to devote the time and resources necessary to the person’s case.