What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
No one wants to get in trouble with the law. But if you do, it is important to understand the different types of crimes based on the severity of each. The two we are going to focus on are:
1.) Misdemeanors and 2.) felonies.
A misdemeanor is the least serious type of crime. Misdemeanors – in most states and under Federal Law – are criminal offenses that carry potential jail time of less than a year. Examples of misdemeanors include, but are not limited to:
- Petty theft.
- Public intoxication.
- Reckless driving.
- Simple assault.
- Disorderly conduct.
If jail time is involved, it is usually in county jail as opposed to a prison. Misdemeanors are typically broken into ‘classes’ based on prison time:
- Class A: 6 months – 1 year.
- Class B: 30 days – 6 months.
- Class C: 5 – 30 days.
The most serious kind of crime is a felony. The term ‘felony’ varies from state to state. Examples of felonies include, but are not limited to:
- Aggravated assault or battery.
Because the punishment for a felony is typically severe, criminal procedures are closely observed so a defendant’s rights are protected. Similar to misdemeanors, felonies are broken into ‘classes’ based on prison time:
- Class A: Life in prison or the death penalty.
- Class B: 25 or years in prison.
- Class C: 10 – 25 years in prison.
- Class D: 5 – 10 years in prison.
- Class E: 1 – 5 years in prison.
In summary, misdemeanors are punishable by more substantial fines and sometimes jail time, usually less than one year. … Felonies are punishable by substantial fines and prison sentences in excess of one year. If you are convicted of felony, you will most likely serve your jail time in a state or federal correctional institution.
Remember, even if the crime is a misdemeanor, it is still a crime.