Misdemeanor Intake and Trial Division
All criminal misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases are handled in the county court. Misdemeanors in Florida can be classified as first or second degree misdemeanors, which carry different penalties. The statutory penalty for a second degree misdemeanor is up to 60 days imprisonment in the county jail or a fine up to $500.00 or both. The statutory penalty for a first degree misdemeanor is up to 12 months imprisonment in the county jail or a fine up to $1,000.00 or both. Additional penalties may apply, depending on the nature of the charges.
Criminal misdemeanor offenses include such crimes as petit theft, shoplifting, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer without violence, worthless checks, battery, assault, and most domestic violence cases. Criminal traffic cases include such crimes as driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled or chemical substances (DUI), driving on a suspended, canceled or revoked driver's license, driving without a valid license, reckless driving, racing on the highway, or leaving the scene of a crash with property damage or injury. Other criminal misdemeanor cases include specified violations of county or municipal ordinances and violations of the marine and natural resource rules. Routine traffic citations that are not criminal in nature, such as speeding, are not handled by the State Attorney's Office unless they are connected to a specific criminal case.
The Misdemeanor Division has a Division Chief, who is responsible for the prosecution of the most serious misdemeanor offenses and for the supervision and training of new attorneys. The division is divided into groups of trial attorneys who handle cases assigned to the presiding county court judges. The trial attorneys represent the State of Florida throughout the prosecution of the case, from arraignment through trial, including all motions, as well as on appeal, if appropriate. There are also misdemeanor attorneys assigned to review new cases as they are received at the State Attorney's Office from our local law enforcement agencies. The intake attorneys make charging decisions and then refer the cases which are filed on to the trial attorneys. Misdemeanor attorneys are also responsible for participating in Baker Act hearings to determine whether or not an individual requires commitment for mental health evaluation or treatment.
Just as with felony and juvenile cases, there are some cases that can best be addressed through a structured diversion program.
In some cases, victim advocates work with victims of misdemeanor crimes to assist them throughout the handling of the case.