Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

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The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is a frequently asked question. The primary difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the severity of the crime. Most people understand that a misdemeanor is a less serious offense than a felony. A misdemeanor may include up to a year in jail, fines, and forfeiture. A misdemeanor does not carry a sentence of state or federal prison time. On the other hand, felony convictions can lead to lengthy prison sentences depending on the circumstances of the crime.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

Both felonies and misdemeanors can be committed against people, property, or the state. The severity of the crime is where they differ. Being convicted of a felony can lead to a potential prison sentence, including a life sentence or the death penalty. Felonies can also carry other penalties including:

  • Eliminating your ability to vote
  • Owning a firearm
  • License restrictions
  • Lengthy probation periods

A misdemeanor can include jail time, fines, probation, rehabilitation programs, and community service. While a misdemeanor may not lead to a lengthy prison sentence, it can have negative effects on your personal and professional life, for example, future job prospects.

Examples of felonies

When looking at the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor it helps to see examples. Felony crimes may include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Arson
  • Rape
  • Murder

Some states also group felonies into what are called “degrees”. The lower the degree, the more severe the crime is. For example, the charge of first-degree murder is more severe than a charge of second-degree murder.

Examples of misdemeanors

Misdemeanor crimes may include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Domestic violence
  • DUI
  • Indecent exposure
  • Petty theft
  • Public intoxication
  • Simple assault
  • Solicitation of prostitution
  • Trespass
  • Vandalism

It is possible for a misdemeanor to be upgraded to a felony charge if the District Attorney feels there is sufficient evidence.

Felony and misdemeanor legal help

If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor you need an experienced criminal defense attorney that can provide you legal assistance. A criminal defense attorney will work to either prove your innocence or help to negotiate a lesser charge or sentence. If you have questions regarding the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, or if you would like to confidentially discuss the details of your case, please contact The Law Office of Gregory W. Fox today at (559) 222-5800. In most instances an appointment can be scheduled for the same day.

If you have any questions regarding the services provided at the Law Office of Gregory W. Fox,
or would like to schedule your free initial consultation, please contact us today at (559) 222-5800. Hablamos español.