What Is A Felony? 5 Degrees of Felonies in Florida

David Weisselberger | November 13, 2023

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In Florida, felonies are serious criminal offenses with significant legal consequences. Understanding the various degrees of felonies in Florida is crucial, as they determine the severity of the crime and the penalties involved.

This article delves into the different degrees of felonies in the Sunshine State, their definitions, and the associated penalties. Whether you're seeking to bolster your knowledge of criminal defense or simply curious about Florida's legal landscape, this comprehensive guide will shed light on what constitutes a felony in Florida and how it differs from misdemeanors.

What Is A Felony in Florida?

felony in florida meaning

A felony in Florida is a grave criminal offense that may lead to significant penalties, including incarceration. Felonies are more severe than misdemeanors and are categorized into different degrees of felony based on the severity of the crime.

What Crimes Are Considered Felonies in Florida?

The list of felonies in Florida encompass a wide range of criminal activities, including but not limited to:

  • First-Degree Felony: Such as murder, punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty.
  • Second-Degree Felony: Like sexual battery, carrying a sentence of up to 15 years.
  • Third-Degree Felony: Including grand theft, with penalties of up to 5 years.
  • Life Felony: Examples include kidnapping and carjacking, leading to life imprisonment.
  • Capital Felony: Murder of a law enforcement officer or heinous crimes resulting in the death penalty.

5 Different Degrees of Felonies in Florida

In Florida, felonies are categorized into five degrees of felony, each representing varying severity and carrying distinct penalties. These levels of felony are as follows:

First-Degree Felony

First-degree felonies are the most severe criminal offenses in Florida. They often involve violent crimes, such as murder or armed robbery. Some white-collar crimes, like embezzlement of large sums, can also fall into this category.

Second-Degree Felony

Second-degree felonies include crimes like sexual battery, aggravated assault, and certain drug trafficking offenses. These crimes are serious but not as extreme as first-degree felonies.

Third-Degree Felony

Third-degree felonies include grand theft, certain drug possession crimes, and certain types of fraud.

Life Felony

Life felonies involve crimes like kidnapping, carjacking, and certain sexual offenses. These offenses are highly serious, although they do not qualify as capital felonies.

Capital Felony

Capital felonies represent the gravest offenses in Florida, typically involving extremely heinous acts. Such instances could include actions such as the fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer or the perpetration of multiple homicides.

Also Read: How Long Can A Felony Charge Be Pending in Florida?

What Are The Penalties of Felonies in Florida?

Penalties for felonies in Florida vary based on the degree of the offense. Below is a breakdown of the potential consequences associated with each degree:

  • First-Degree Felony: Convictions may result in a life imprisonment sentence or the death penalty application.
  • Second-Degree Felony: Convictions can lead to imprisonment for up to 15 years.
  • Third-Degree Felony: Convictions may result in imprisonment for up to 5 years.
  • Life Felonies: Can result in life imprisonment upon conviction.
  • Capital Felonies: Carry the potential for life imprisonment, much worse, death penalty without the possibility of parole if a conviction is obtained.

The Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony in Florida

In Florida, the primary distinction between misdemeanors and felonies lies in the severity of the offense and the associated penalties. Misdemeanors, such as petty theft or simple assault, result in relatively minor penalties, including fines, probation, and short jail terms. Felonies, which comprise more severe crimes like murder and drug trafficking, carry heavier penalties, including substantial fines and longer prison sentences.

Convictions for both misdemeanors and felonies create criminal records, but felony convictions have more profound implications for future opportunities and civil rights. The legal process for felonies is typically more intricate, involving grand jury indictments and lengthier court proceedings, while misdemeanors are processed more expediently.

How Long Does A Felony Stay on Your Record in Florida?

Convictions for felonious offenses can leave a lasting impact on an individual's criminal record. In Florida, a felony conviction typically remains on your record permanently unless you take steps to expunge it.

Here is a breakdown of the general statute of limitations timeframes for various felony classifications:

  • No Statute of Limitations for Capital Felonies
  • First Degree Felonies – Four Years
  • Less Serious Felonies – Three Years
  • Exceptions

Check how long does a felony stay on your record in Florida for a more detailed discussion.

How Our Attorney Can Help

If you're curious about expunging your criminal records in Florida, Erase the Case offers a straightforward solution. Our team of experts specializes in clearing your record with ease. We leverage our legal expertise to assess your situation, serve as your advocates, and navigate the legal intricacies. Whether it involves negotiating for favorable settlements, providing strong courtroom representation, safeguarding your rights, or exploring expungement possibilities, we're committed to achieving the best outcome for your specific legal needs. Your concerns are our top priority, and we offer a personalized approach to legal representation. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us today!


What is the most serious felony in Florida?

The most serious felony in Florida is a capital felony, which is commonly penalized with either the death penalty or life imprisonment with no opportunity for parole.

How many felonies can you have in Florida?

There is no specific limit to the number of felonies in Florida, but each felony conviction carries its own set of penalties.

Is stealing $1,000 a felony in Florida?

In Florida, charges related to theft may range from felonies to misdemeanors, contingent upon the stolen property's value and additional contextual elements. Stealing $1,000 may result in felony charges.

How much can you steal in Florida without going to jail?

The threshold for felony charges in theft cases in Florida varies, but stealing under $750 typically results in misdemeanor charges.

Is it a felony to steal a car in Florida?

Yes, the act of car theft in Florida is categorized as a felony, and the seriousness of the charge hinges on the specific situation and the assessed value of the stolen vehicle.

Is shoplifting a felony in Florida?

Shoplifting in Florida may lead to either felony or misdemeanor charges, contingent upon the worth of the stolen goods and any previous criminal convictions.

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"David Weisselberger is the founder of Erase The Case. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Florida, & also his Juris Doctor from UM School of Law. Afterwards, He has been working as a former Miami-Dade County Assistant Public Defender. Also, as a solo lawyer and former associate at South Florida’s honored Saban & Solomon Law Firm. He has learned firsthand the effects people face from having a public criminal arrest record mark their lives. Therefore, David has always been working hard to help people get rid of haunting crimnal past and have a second chance in life"

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