Difference Between Misdemeanor And Felony?

An accused criminal may face either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the nature of the crime. Felony charges usually carry more severe penalties than misdemeanors, and in some cases, incarceration may be mandatory.

Many factors are considered when deciding how to charge a person for a crime; some crimes, like shoplifting, are classified as misdemeanors, while others, like armed robbery or killing, are classified as felonies.

Difference Between Misdemeanor And Felony
Difference Between Misdemeanor And Felony

What’s a Misdemeanor?

Misdemeanors are crimes punishable by less than one year in prison under federal statute and in most jurisdictions. A misdemeanor is a lesser crime than a felony and a greater offense than a traffic violation, according to the laws of some states.

Misdemeanors are also divided into categories like infractions. Federal sentencing laws categorize offenders into groups based on the maximum possible prison sentence.

Class A misdemeanor: one year in jail or less, but much more than six months.

Class B misdemeanor: six months but more than 30 days in jail; Class C misdemeanor: thirty days but more than five days in jail.

Most people go to jail at the county level rather than in a maximum-security facility. Prosecutors have considerable leeway in determining which offenses to pursue, the severity of penalties, and the term of any plea deals they may seek.

Also Check: What Is a Gross Misdemeanor?

What is Felony?

As a rule, there are no fixed guidelines for sentencing felonies, unlike misdemeanors. However, the death penalty or life in prison without parole is the standard punishment for Class A offenses. The sentences for misdemeanors and petty felonies might include any combination of monetary fines, community service, and jail time.

A judge hearing your case will consider both the nature of the crime and your criminal history when making a decision. Furthermore, the judge may defer the sentence and impose supervision or community service instead.

What Is the difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

The main difference between Misdemeanor and a Felony is that misdemeanors are typically considered less severe offenses. The potential punishments for committing a misdemeanor in the State of New York represent that a misdemeanor is viewed as less severe than a felony. The penalties for committing a felony include more time in prison and more significant fines.

What is the difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
What is the difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

When is a Misdemeanor upgraded to a Felony?

It’s not hard to get from a misdemeanor to a felony. It’s possible that even if there were room for negotiation, your crime would still be classified as a felony if you didn’t have access to a competent legal representative. The following are examples of aggravating circumstances that could lead to a misdemeanor being upgraded to a felony:

  • To what extent a person’s property was damaged or injured
  • Who the victim was (for example, a pregnant lady, police officer, youngster, or older adult)
  • Whether or not there were aggravating circumstances.

If the prosecution cannot provide sufficient evidence to support a reduced felony charge, the original offense will be pursued. This occurs mainly among defendants without experienced defense counsel to assist and defend them. The judge will also assess the grounds for petition, the circumstances of the case, or if you fulfilled the conditions of probation.

Also Read: Can Misdemeanors Be Expunged?

Misdemeanor Vs Felony Examples

Trespassing, petit theft, arson, and disorderly conduct are all examples of misdemeanors. Simple assault (the threat or act of physical abuse without a weapon) and multiple drug possession offenses (for first-time offenders) also typically fall into this category.

A felony is a grave crime typically involving either physical assault or the infliction of severe emotional distress or recklessness. Creating or possessing child pornography, committing murder or manslaughter, robbing a person, being convicted of driving under the influence many times, abduction, and reckless driving are all examples of felonies.

Crimes, including tax evasion, intimidating an officer, felony theft, copyright laws, perjury, theft by deception, and disobedience of parole or probation, are all felonies despite not being violent.

Also, When it comes to criminal charges, the distinction between a felony and a misdemeanor can be significant. You can also read is embezzlement a felony or a misdemeanor.

Punishments for Misdemeanors & Felonies

Fines and jail time are common criminal punishments. The costs associated with a conviction for any offense, from traffic violations to felonies, can vary widely depending on the infraction and the jurisdiction. The penalties for felonies are substantially harsher than those for misdemeanors, with the most severe offenses carrying enormous monetary fines. Just like fines, jail terms are contextual.

Based on the severity of the offense, a probationary period may be required instead of incarceration. When someone is convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to jail time, that time is often spent in a county jail rather than a state or federal facility. A felony conviction results in a substantially longer prison sentence, and offenders typically serve their time in state institutions.

Do You Need Attorney In Misdemeanor And Felony?

Whether you are being charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, you need to choose an experienced defense attorney. You could lose a great deal, including your autonomy, good name, resources, and possibilities for gainful employment.

Check Also: Class A Misdemeanor In Indiana


What is the most jail time for a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a lesser offense than a felony. It does not carry the possibility of incarceration in the state of California. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you might face up to a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.

Can you go to jail for a misdemeanor in California?

For the most part, misdemeanors carry maximum penalties of $1,000 in fines and a year or less in county jail. Nevertheless, some violations, such as marital abuse, warrant more considerable fines than the norm.

How long do misdemeanors last in California?

Most misdemeanor convictions today carry a period of informal supervision following sentencing, typically lasting between 24 and 36 months. Once your case is finalized, you will be given a copy of the Judicial Order of Expungement.

Does a misdemeanor stay on your record?

Until you successfully purge the record, a misdemeanor will remain there forever. Misdemeanor convictions do not end on a specific date. A misdemeanor is a lesser crime than a felony, but it is still a violation of the law.