What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony?
There is a common misconception that most crimes are similar in terms of type and punishment simply because it is convenient to group the majority of illegal activity together in a single basket. Those who comply with the law do not develop an in-depth understanding of the nuances of different crimes and punishment for good reason. However, everyone should have a basic understanding of the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. Even if you are completely innocent and law abiding, there is a chance that you will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and need the assistance of A Way Out Bail Bonds to get out of jail.
The Basics of Misdemeanors
Misdemeanors are more common than felonies simply because most crimes are not severe to the point that they can be classified as felonies. Misdemeanors are comparably less severe crimes. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, yet they are much more serious than basic infractions. The vast majority of states have decided it is appropriate for misdemeanors to have a jail term of a year or less.
It is also worth noting that some states consider misdemeanors to be a level of crime that falls in between the extremes of the uber-serious felony and the relatively less serious infraction. Infractions are still considered crimes, yet they aren’t as severe as other crimes as they are mere violations of a law, ordinance, or rule. The punishment for an infraction does not include jail time. In most cases, infractions result in a fine. As an example, receiving a ticket for a traffic violation is considered an infraction.
The Basics of Felonies
If you are found guilty of a felony, your life will become much more difficult. Felons lack the rights of those without a serious criminal record. Felonies carry extensive jail/prison sentences, freedom restrictions/complete loss of freedom, hefty fines, and social exclusion. Felons find it difficult to obtain employment, find a place to live, exercise their political voice, and receive respect from community members. The bottom line is it is in your interest to avoid the addition of a felony to your record at all costs.
It is interesting to note that a misdemeanor has the potential to quickly escalate to the level of a felony. As an example, if a driver is over the legal limit for alcohol and is stopped for a suspected DUI, the stage is set for a misdemeanor criminal charge. However, the misdemeanor charge has the potential to elevate to a felony if there are kids in the vehicle or if the driver’s blood alcohol level is well beyond the legal limit.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
The primary difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is severity of the crime, meaning the egregiousness of the illegal action. Felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanors. As a result, the punishments for felony crimes are more severe than those for misdemeanor crimes. As an example, an individual found guilty of a misdemeanor crime will likely be sentenced to community service as ordered by the court, probation, and/or fines.
Alternatively, those who are found guilty of a felony will face comparably stiff penalties. Felonies are serious crimes, often categorized into categories based on severity. The most serious of felonies, sometimes referred to as capital felonies, have the potential to be punishable by death or life in prison. Felonies of the first degree typically carry prison sentences between half a decade and 99 years to life.
A first-degree felony also has the potential to carry a fine of several thousand dollars. Second-degree felonies are punishable by a prison sentence typically between a couple years and a couple decades, along with a fine of several thousand dollars. Third-degree felonies have the potential to carry a prison sentence of two years to a decade along with a fine.
Contact A Way Out Bail Bonds
If you or a loved one are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, don’t panic. A Way Out Bail Bonds is here for you, your family, and your friends during times of need. Reach out to us, and we’ll help you post bail, get out of jail, and return your life to normal. Contact us today.