Florida’s Criminal Penalties for Capital and Life Felonies

Florida’s criminal penalties are substantial for those convicted of a capital or life felony. Those convicted could face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or even the death penalty. If you are facing such charges, know that sentencing will depend on a number of factors including the nature and type of crime with which you are charged.

Sentences for Life and Capital Felonies 

If convicted of a life felony, you could be looking at a sentence of 40 years to life imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000. Offenders over 18 who are found guilty of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under 12 years of age may face life imprisonment or a minimum 25 year prison term followed by probation for the rest of the offender’s life.

Sentence for a capital felony may include life imprisonment without parole, or the death penalty.

Several factors may be considered when determining whether a sentence of death or life imprisonment should be handed down including but not limited to: 

  • previous felony convictions;
  • threat of death to many people;
  • age of the victim; and
  • whether the crime was committed while committing another crime like sexual battery, robbery, child abuse, and more. 

Types of Crimes Leading to Life and Capital Felony Charges

Life felony charges may be brought for the commission of a number of serious offenses. In many cases, the circumstances of the crime will dictate whether the crime is considered a life felony or a lesser degree felony.

For example, kidnapping is generally considered a first-degree felony. But kidnapping a person under the age of 13 and committing child abuse, sexual batter, lewd or lascivious battery, or other serious offenses in addition to kidnapping is a life felony.

Other crimes that may constitute a life felony include rape and sexual battery of a child under 12. Capital offenses also include serious offenses. Individuals who commit murder of the first degree, treason, and sexual battery of a child under 12 by a person over the age of 18 may be charged with a capital felony.

Felony murder falls under Florida Statute §782.04. It is considered to be the unlawful killing of a person when premeditated or during certain actions. For instance, when committed in the act of carjacking, kidnapping, sexual battery, or robbery.

Florida also has severe criminal penalties when convicted of capital drug trafficking. Those found guilty of purchasing, delivering, selling or importing certain substances can be punished by life imprisonment or death if charged with a capital felony for the offense.

The following types of drugs can lead to a capital drug trafficking charge in Florida: 

  • opiates;
  • cocaine;
  • amphetamine;
  • phencyclidine;
  • 1,4 – Butanediol;
  • methamphetamine;
  • gamma-butyrolactone (GBL);
  • methaqualone; and
  • gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB). 

However, the criminal penalties will be based on several factors. One is the amount of the drug, which must be significant and varies depending on the type of drug. Additionally, to be charged with a capital felony, the defendant must be found to have knowledge “that the probable result of such manufacture or importation would be the death of any person…”

Help from Defense Lawyers if Charged with a Felony in Miami Beach

Clearly, there is a lot to lose when faced with a capital or life felony. An individual charged with such a serious crime could spend decades or a lifetime in prison if convicted. In certain circumstances, it may even result in a death penalty if convicted of a capital felony. A defense lawyer at the Falk & Ross Law Firm in Miami can provide legal representation for individuals charged with these serious crimes. Call us: 877-663-5110.