What's the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

775.08 Classes and definitions of offenses.--When used in the laws of this state:

(1) The term "felony" shall mean any criminal offense that is punishable under the laws of this state, or that would be punishable if committed in this state, by death or imprisonment in a state penitentiary. "State penitentiary" shall include state correctional facilities. A person shall be imprisoned in the state penitentiary for each sentence which, except an extended term, exceeds 1 year.

(2) The term "misdemeanor" shall mean any criminal offense that is punishable under the laws of this state, or that would be punishable if committed in this state, by a term of imprisonment in a county correctional facility, except an extended term, not in excess of 1 year. The term "misdemeanor" shall not mean a conviction for any non criminal traffic violation of any provision of chapter 316 or any municipal or county ordinance.

(3) The term "non criminal violation" shall mean any offense that is punishable under the laws of this state, or that would be punishable if committed in this state, by no other penalty than a fine, forfeiture, or other civil penalty. A non criminal violation does not constitute a crime, and conviction for a non criminal violation shall not give rise to any legal disability based on a criminal offense. The term "non criminal violation" shall not mean any conviction for any violation of any municipal or county ordinance. Nothing contained in this code shall repeal or change the penalty for a violation of any municipal or county ordinance.

(4) The term "crime" shall mean a felony or misdemeanor.

History.--s. 1(11), ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2352; GS 3176; RGS 5006; CGL 7105; s. 1, ch. 71-136; s. 4, ch. 74-383; s. 1, ch. 75-298; s. 1, ch. 88-196.

775.081 Classifications of felonies and misdemeanors.--

(1) Felonies are classified, for the purpose of sentence and for any other purpose specifically provided by statute, into the following categories:

(a) Capital felony;

(b) Life felony;

(c) Felony of the first degree;

(d) Felony of the second degree; and

(e) Felony of the third degree.

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 of the third degree, except that this provision shall not affect felonies punishable by life imprisonment for the first offense.

(2) Misdemeanors are classified, for the purpose of sentence and for any other purpose specifically provided by statute, into the following categories:

(a) Misdemeanor of the first degree; and

(b) Misdemeanor of the second degree.

A misdemeanor is of the particular degree designated by statute. Any crime declared by statute to be a misdemeanor without specification of degree is of the second degree.

(3) This section is supplemental to, and is not to be construed to alter, the law of this state establishing and governing criminal offenses that are divided into degrees by virtue of distinctive elements comprising such offenses, regardless of whether such law is established by constitutional provision, statute, court rule, or court decision.

History.--s. 2, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 72-724.

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